UPS gets the green light for drone airline


The FAA awarded UPS a certificate to use drones on medical campuses across the country.

UPS gets the green light for drone airline
The FAA awarded UPS a certificate to use drones on medical campuses across the country.

Jim Mayer, public relations manager for UPS, explained to TechRepublic how the company can now operate a drone airline. The following is an edited transcript of his explanation.

Jim Mayer: We’ve reached a turning point in drone aviation. UPS has been granted a Part 135 operating certificate by the FAA. What that means is that UPS now operates a drone airline. We have authority to operate as many drones with as many operators across the country, and we’re planning on growing that operation very quickly. Anything else you’ve seen from anybody else is a test or a demonstration. This is the real thing, and UPS is doing it.

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The important thing is this is the first Part 135 certificate that any company has received to operate drones. And so with that, this is a license to grow. You’re going to see more drone operations at more hospital systems across the country. You’re going to see other use cases. We’re going to build out an operations center. We’ve got big plans for drones at UPS.

We see a lot of potential for drones. In situations, like right now we’re using it on a hospital campus to move blood samples around rather than using a courier car.

People will ask, “So are you going to be delivering packages by drone?” That’s something that’s often the distance, we really don’t have a look at that, but what matters really is the personal connection that our employees have, our drivers have, with their customers. So, we look at drones as being supplementing what they’re already doing.

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