US welcomes first drone airline ‘UPS Flight Forward’

FAA approval is “the first step to being able to enable deliveries to homes and rural areas.”
3 October 2019

UPS Flight Forward attains FAA’s first full approval for drone airline: Source: UPS

Drones flying around and delivering goods is becoming a close reality as United Parcel Service (UPS) got the green light from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to run a “drone airline”.

Earlier this year, UPS launched its first regular drone deliveries in North Carolina, delivering medical products across a hospital system. However, without a certification from FAA drone delivery companies like UPS have restricted operations to fly drones. 

Now with approval from the FAA, UPS is planning a delivery route for hospital facilities around the US.

License to fly day and night

A certification from the FAA allows UPS to fly as many drones as the company wants during day and night. Drones can fly outside of the operator’s visual line of sight and carry cargo weighing more than 55 Ib.

UPS is the first company to obtain the full Part 135 standard certification and operate on the stated basis, getting ahead of companies with similar aims like Amazon Air and Uber Eats. 

With plans to debut as “UPS Flight Forward”, it still requires monitoring form the federal government but not full supervision like commercial airplanes.


Though a big step in pioneering drone delivery in public domains, UPS still needs permission from FAA and local regulators before offering its service in certain regions of the US.

At the moment, UPS is establishing a center where drone activities can be monitored and operated. 

Although preliminary in stages to be a full-fledged drone delivery service, the Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer of UPS, Scott Price states: “this is the first step to being able to enable deliveries to homes and rural areas”.

With self-driving trucks being tested in the US— including by national postal service USPS— and the dawn of drone delivery services, transportation of goods is entering a new horizon.