As part of the unmanned aircraft integration program sponsored by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Zipline received “Part 135” authorization that recognizes drone delivery as a single operation requiring all such flights, in which goods are transported, by bundling them into a single certificate.
Part 135 is currently the FAA’s only avenue for small drones to transport another’s property for compensation beyond line of sight.
Without the certificate, companies that wanted to make deliveries with drones had to apply for exemptions to fly in BVLOS, urban environments. The Part 135 process recognizes drone delivery as a single operation requiring all of these types of flight, lumping them into a single authorization.
It should be noted that BVLOS are flights that can be flown beyond the visual range of the pilot. In other words, the person controlling the drone does not need to have the aircraft in sight, as he or she follows the drone’s current position on his or her remote control.
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Zipline is a U.S. company that designs, manufactures and operates delivery drones. It operates distribution centers in Rwanda, Ghana, Japan and the United States, with signed agreements to begin service in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya
With the Part 135 announcement, Zipline makes it clear that it plans to continue to expand beyond medical drone delivery and enter retail. The partnership with Walmart will provide deliveries of retail produce and fresh food.
Over the next few years, the company is expected to use this new certification to become the largest drone delivery provider in the United States.
In addition, with this permission to make drone deliveries anywhere in the U.S., Zipline is sure to announce many new drone delivery programs and partnerships in the coming months.
Initially, Zipline’s drone deliveries in the United States will depart from the Kannapolis, North Carolina hub. From that location, the company will be able to service an area of approximately 2 acres and deliver half a ton of medical supplies per day.
Operations from the Kannapolis facility will be conducted with Zipline’s healthcare partners Novant Health, Magellan Rx Management and Cardinal Health.
In addition, the company plans to launch deliveries in both Utah in partnership with Intermountain Healthcare and Arkansas in partnership with Walmart later this year.