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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the first time has recognized a drone service as a commercial airline. The service is not owned by Amazon, which has gotten so much media attention for its drone plans, but by UPS.

Brown wins.

Wired writes that "this latest advance in the now years-old effort to put drones to work over America means the FAA has given something called Part 135 Standard certification to the logistics giant’s drone-slinging subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward. (Business jet operators and others that run on-demand, rather than scheduled, service get the same ordination.) With the certification in wing, UPS has the right to run as many drones as it likes, in as many places as it likes. And it’s already gearing up to expand its drone delivery service beyond the Wakemed hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina, where it’s been testing a delivery service since March."

The story notes that "over the past six months in Raleigh, UPS has run more than 1,000 revenue-generating flights, moving blood samples and pharmaceutical supplies around the hospital campus," creating what the company calls "substantial economic value."

Wired goes on to point out that "the company is developing a center where its operators will oversee fleets of drones," but that may not be enough to satisfy the FAA, which may want "to approve each individual flight beyond the line of sight. And if UPS wants to work something like a real airline and open its services to the folks eager to eliminate the ground-dwelling human courier, it will need broader permission to fly as it sees fit."
KC's View:
I feel like one of the doors to the future has been opened. The emergence of drone delivery as a viable business model has been slow; it has been six years since Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos talked about it on "60 Minutes." But it appears that momentum is picking up and that, both literally and metaphorically, the sky is the limit.