Drone delivery vendor Zipline has received the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Part 135 air carrier certification authorizing the company to complete long range on-demand commercial drone deliveries in the U.S.
The certification allows operations covering the largest area and greatest distance of any uncrewed commercial aircraft delivery system in the country. The certification is one part of the FAA’s BEYOND program, an initiative the agency integrated for safe beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) of drone operations in U.S. airspace.
In the ramp up to getting the certification, Zipline has:
- Flown 23 million autonomous miles.
- Completed more than 325,000 on-demand commercial deliveries.
- Started operations with Walmart stores for deliveries at 34 sites in the U.S.
- Served more than 2,000 healthcare facilities in Rwanda and Ghana.
With the Part 135 certification, Zipline will be able to expand its delivery services with its healthcare partners and others, Zipline said.
Zipline said it will begin flying routes of up to a whopping 26 miles roundtrip including through Class D airspace, which is classified as upward of 2,500 feet above airport elevation.
Under the FAA’s oversight, Zipline said it will work to expand its service to meet demand across new geographics and use cases particularly as it is now authorized to fly over people, in controlled airspace and BVLOS.
Initial long-range flights will operate out of Zipline’s hub in Kannapolis, North Carolina. It will be capable of serving about 8,000 square mile areas and delivering half a ton of supplies per day. This facility allows operations with its partners Novant Health, Magellan Rx Management and Cardinal Health.
Additionally, Zipline plans to launch deliveries in Utah with Intermountain Healthcare later this year and expand flights with Walmart in Arkansas.