It’s been nearly 18 months since the Federal Aviation Administration announced the companies participating in its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program, but DJI has finally just joined the club, as part of the Memphis drone pilot program.
The FAA’s drone pilot program — which was designed to pair governments up with private companies to test types of drone flights that are currently banned in the U.S., including flying drones at night, flying over people and package delivery — launched in May 2018 with high-profile companies including Google, Uber, Flytrex and Zipline.
DJI was conspicuously missing from that list — until this month.
The Memphis International Airport this month announced that DJI would join it as part of the Memphis UAS IPP program, which is using DJI drones to conduct FedEx aircraft inspections, delivery of FedEx aircraft parts in day and night operations, airport perimeter security, and support of various airport safety inspections.
The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) is the lead applicant in the program, selected to focus on aircraft inspections, security monitoring of the ramp, and security/perimeter fence surveillance at Memphis International Airport.
In addition to DJI, the Memphis project also involves the Memphis Fire Department, Memphis Police Department, Tennessee Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics, FedEx, AirXOS, Measure, Avitas, and 901Drones.
“DJI is excited to show how drone technology can improve the safety and efficiency of operations, even at an airport,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs, in a prepared statement. “We’re pleased to support FedEx and the Memphis IPP as they collaborate to explore how drones can be used to benefit communities and major infrastructure.”
Outside of the Memphis drone pilot program, FedEx is also a key player in the Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech’s Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP), another one of the organizations in the FAA’s pilot program. Project Wing, the drone delivery arm of the company formerly known as Google, is currently conducting drone deliveries of some FedEx shipments to residents of Christiansburg, Virginia.