A Dallas delivery carrier that uses a fleet of planes to make B2B deliveries to more than 200 locations across the U.S., Mexico, and South America, now wants to build a new fleet.
But instead of planes, Ameriflight wants to use drones for what it says are “health care and ecommerce deliveries to customers located in dense urban and suburban environments across the country.”
The company, which has about 156 planes in its fleet along with 14 bases, 1,500 weekly departures, and 200 destinations, says it has received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate drone aircraft.
Ameriflight, a commercial air carrier in business since 1968, will partner with Matternet, a developer of a large urban drone delivery system, to build a drone delivery network.
Key details such as how many drones will be deployed and where and how quickly the drone fleet will scale are still unclear. But what is clear are the combined operation’s target markets: healthcare and ecommerce.
“The approval to add drones to our operation positions Ameriflight, once again, at the forefront of innovation in the aviation industry,” says owner and chair Jim Martell. “Moving forward with the future of our newly operative UAS division allows us to expand into a largely untapped delivery market with a lot of room for speed and safety logistic improvements.”
In 2019, Matternet and UPS partnered to launch drone delivery services in the U.S and in 2022, Matternet’s M2 drone became the first drone delivery system to achieve Certification by the FAA in the U.S.
Ameriflight will deploy the M2 fleet of drones using Matternet’s software platform from a central remote network operations center. Ameriflight also intends to operate its uncrewed aircraft as a supplement to its crewed operations and not replace its current flying operation, aircraft, or pilots.
“This is not a test program or a future deployment concept — this is the real, scalable, and safe drone-based solution that customers are looking for,” says Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulos.
Ameriflght, which says it delivers 75,000 packages daily, has yet to announce pricing or delivery routes and times. But commercial ecommerce deliveries are a top priority. “Drone delivery can enable ultra-fast delivery of small packages,” the company says.
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