FAA approves drone delivery from Zipline

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday approved drone delivery company Zipline to operate as a small air carrier in the U.S.

Zipline, which has contributed to thousands of medical supply drops globally, announced in a press release that it had received the certification, noting that it “is now authorized to complete the longest range on-demand commercial drone deliveries” in the country.

The drone company is the first to receive air carrier certification under the FAA’s BEYOND program, which Zipline says is “an initiative designed to safely integrate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations into U.S. airspace.”

Operations will cover the largest area and greatest distance of any uncrewed commercial aircraft delivery system in the country, the company said.

“Zipline’s sustainable instant delivery system is transforming healthcare and retail,” said Zipline co-founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo in a statement. “Today, on average, Zipline makes a delivery every four minutes—ensuring people get access to the products they need, the moment they need them.

“With our part 135 certification, and in close collaboration with our partners and the FAA, we are one step closer to making safe, clean and quiet instant delivery a reality for communities across the U.S.” 

Zipline is already making deliveries with Walmart in the U.S., as well as with Toyota Tsusho Corporation in Japan.

The drone company is also notable for its medical deliveries in Rwanda and Ghana, where it serves over 2,000 healthcare facilities. It has delivered life-saving medical necessities, such as blood reserves, COVID-19 vaccines and equipment.

Zipline joined other companies that conduct drone deliveries that have been approved to operate as air carriers in the country by the FAA, including Amazon’s Prime Air and USPS’s Flight Forward.