Drone service company DroneUp has been approved for an industry-first FAA flight waiver over people and moving vehicles to aid drone delivery of COVID-19 test kits in the United States
Scaling up the delivery of drones across the country requires flight over people and moving vehicles, which U.S. drone regulations currently prohibit without waiver. Now DroneUp, LLC announces that it has been approved “for the Federal Aviation Administrations (FAA), Section 107.39 Operation Over People Waiver, which allows unrestricted flight over non-participating people and moving vehicles to avoid drone delivery from COVID-19 Test kits support, ”According to a press release.
“DroneUp’s waiver of 107.39 is the first to allow drones to be delivered via people in the US with no predefined operational areas, locations, or routes. The waiver is also a first, which enables unrestricted overflight of moving vehicles. “
Brendan Stewart, DroneUp’s director of training and compliance, says the breakthrough waiver takes time, collaboration and a compelling application. “We had to approach this waiver with a strong spirit of working with the FAA and a willingness to do additional homework to validate our proof of safety,” says Stewart. “We came to the table with the safety and standardization infrastructure you would expect from a small airline … operations manuals, a safety management system, hands-on flight tests and proficiency tests, standardized operational risk management and flight reporting.”
“These components were extremely important in order to articulate them [FAA] Why should you give DroneUp a unique permit? “Says Stewart. “We also worked closely with Indemnis, who provided the airframe parachute, the core damage control technology in support of our application.”
Surrender is a big deal for drone delivery. DroneUp has grown into a major player in the delivery sector, working with retail giant Walmart and UPS, the world’s largest parcel delivery service. DroneUp was also instrumental in defining what can be achieved by delivering drones under the FAA’s Part 107 rule. This waiver is a further important step forward: The signature message from DroneUp CEO Tom Walker “Get it now” is expressed loud and clear in an operation in which DJI drones according to industry standards, a commercially available parachute system from Indemnis in Alaska , and a daylight waiver that enables delivery operations 24 hours a day.
By waiving 107.39, DroneUp can scale its project to deliver COVID-19 test kits to homes by drone, a contactless delivery system that is particularly well suited to the needs of communities affected by pandemics. They don’t plan on stopping there, however.
“The impetus for developing this waiver was the need to scale our Part 107 delivery operations in markets where flight over people and moving vehicles is impractical: flying in congested urban areas or on-demand flights for delivery to individual houses in suburbs, ”says Stewart. “This concept of operation is directly applicable to other operations where people and vehicles cannot be controlled, including building inspections for large stores. The driving need for this waiver may have been the delivery of COVID kits, but it is certainly not limited to these operations. “
It is difficult to obtain the first waiver: however, subsequent applications can build on the work of DroneUp. As more companies gain exemption for overflying people and vehicles, the industry may be able to shift the delivery of drones from the test case scenario in controlled areas to general use in a variety of environments.
“Much of the language in Part 107 came from precedents set by the Section 333 approvals ahead of them. Many of the exemptions approved today share common best practices from similar operations, ”said Stewart. “This waiver shows a safety standard and sets a precedent. We have proven that a drone that can safely fly over people can be configured to fly safely over moving vehicles. We have proven that if we can safely carry a camera over people and moving vehicles, then we should be able to carry other payloads as well. “
“In retrospect, those early 333 approvals set the precedent for mainstream operations today,” says Stewart. “We hope this approval of the waiver will continue down this path into the future.”
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has authored over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
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