A few years ago, Dominos made headlines for being the first company to deliver pizza by drones. Could you soon have your packages delivered in a similar manner? Well, if you ask UPS, the answer is “Yes.”
UPS, the delivery company with the big brown trucks, beat out Amazon and Google to become America’s first nationwide drone airline.
Although this has nothing to do with points and miles, I think this is an interesting topic because the use of drones within the airline industry has been speculated for many years. In fact, on a smaller scale, Dubai has been racing to replace personal taxis with drones. Take a look:
Anyway, this past week it was announced that the US Department of Transportation had granted UPS the first full ‘Part 135’ certification for a drone airline.
UPS has been conducting drone deliveries at the WakeMed hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, in collaboration with the drone technology company Matternet.
However, with the certification, UPS can now deliver goods anywhere in the country with the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration.
However, UPS isn’t the first company to receive Part 135 certification.
Another drone operator — Wing, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet also has the certification, however, the scope of its operation is limited to Christiansburg, Virginia.
The adoption of drone technology has been sluggish, at best. This is, partially, due to government regulation. Governments worldwide have been worried about the potential for “rogue drone use” and other safety concerns (i.e. drones malfunctioning and falling from the sky).
But last year, the Department of Transportation took a major step in better regulating the commercial use of drones as 10 state and local governments were approved to work with private corporations to test drone technology.
UPS gaining this certification is the result of this regulation approval.
In recent years, companies ranging from Domino’s to Amazon have announced initiatives towards drone delivery but no company has managed to establish a regular, revenue-generating business from the drones.
In the same respect, UPS still faces severe restrictions before it can run a large commercial operation with drones.
For example, drones won’t be allowed to fly beyond the sight of the operator without an FAA exemption. Additionally, each flight will need a separate operator. From an operation finance standpoint, that can be costly, unless the FAA grants permission to have a single operator fly multiple drones at the same time.
What are your thoughts about drones delivering packages? Medicines? Food? People?