UPS gets FAA approval to operate drone fleet

UPS gets FAA approval to operate drone fleet
© Getty

UPS announced Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted the company clearance to operate a fleet of nationwide delivery drones, according to The Associated Press.

The decision is a major win for companies like UPS who have been trying for years to make drone deliveries feasible.


The clearance allows UPS to have an unlimited number of drones in its fleet and for the drones to fly at night. Additionally, it allows UPS to transport packages over 55 pounds by drone. Scott Price, UPS chief strategy officer, though, says the technology for heavy package deliveries is still being finished, the AP reports.

Work still remains to be done, however, before customers can expect to see packages arrive via drone.

At the moment, drone deliveries will only occur on campuses such as universities and hospitals because the FAA hasn't passed regulations that would make commercial drone flying legal over populated areas. Plus, each flight will need its own pilot, meaning for the time being, UPS won't be able to assign one pilot to manage multiple flights. The drone must also stay within the line of sight of the pilot.

The company thinks that same-day delivery is the most commercially feasible use for drone deliveries at the moment, but that hinges on the FAA drafting the necessary regulations for drone use in populated areas.

Amazon owner Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosDorsey's exit shakes up Twitter future The dangers of anarchy in space Health risks of space tourism: Is it responsible to send humans to Mars? MORE claimed in 2014 that drones would be making home deliveries by 2019, but that prediction did not come to fruition.

UPS's shipping rivals, such as DHL and FedEx, are also pushing to gain clearance from the government to begin using drone deliveries.