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Drone Delivery Coming Soon to a Hospital Near You

Analysis  |  By Steven Porter  
   October 03, 2019

The FAA granted UPS full certification to fly unmanned drones beyond the operator's line of site.

Unmanned aircraft may soon begin making more deliveries to hospitals across the country, after the Federal Aviation Administration granted full certification to a UPS subsidiary to operate a drone airline.

The certification—which permits UPS to fly an unlimited number of drones, day and night, beyond the operator's line of site—comes six months after the company's historic drone delivery at WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina.

With the FAA's green light, UPS plans to scale up its operations first to meet healthcare needs then to serve other industries, according to the company's announcement.

"This is a big step forward in safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace, expanding access to healthcare in North Carolina and building on the success of the national UAS Integration Pilot Program to maintain American leadership in unmanned aviation," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao in a statement.

The subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward, secured full Part 135 Standard certification.

"This is history in the making, and we aren't done yet," said UPS CEO David Abney in the statement.

"We will soon announce other steps to build out our infrastructure, expand services for healthcare customers and put drones to new uses in the future," Abney added.

The company said it plans to expand its drone delivery services to new hospitals and other medical campuses and also build a centralized operations control center.

Related: Healthcare's Kitty Hawk Moment? Drone Delivers Lab Samples to WakeMed Hospital

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: Provided/UPS


The news comes six months after the company's first revenue-generating drone flight, at WakeMed Health & Hospitals.

The company plans to serve healthcare facilities and build out infrastructure and business use cases from there.

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