Flirtey and Reno receive FAA approval for BVLOS drone delivery

By Patrick C. Miller | March 13, 2019

Flirtey and the city of Reno, Nevada, have received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct drone delivery flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

The new approval enables Flirtey to conduct drone delivery operations with a pilot controlling the flights from a remote location. Matthew Sweeny, Flirtey founder and CEO, said the new approval is a milestone that brings life-saving and commercial drone delivery service a step closer to reality. Flirtey will use its next-generation drone—designed to carry heavier payloads for longer distances—to deliver automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and commercial packages.

Flirtey and Reno are participants in the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP), intended to accelerate the integration of drones into the national airspace system (NAS). As one of 10 selected participants, Reno chose Flirtey as its partner to deliver AEDs to treat those experiencing cardiac arrest and to develop a scalable model for commercial drone delivery.

"The City of Reno is proud to partner with Flirtey, the FAA and our local IPP partners to enable drone delivery of AEDs to Washoe County residents," said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve. "Public safety is our top priority, and the use of drones to provide life-saving AED technology to cardiac patients will save lives across our community."

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of natural death in the U.S. For every minute people experiencing cardiac arrest waits to receive defibrillation, their odds of survival decrease by about 10 percent. Deploying AEDs via drones can increase the average cardiac arrest rate from just 10 percent to 47 percent.

Based on historical data, one Flirtey delivery drone carrying an AED in Reno has the potential to save at least one life every two weeks. Deployed nationwide, Flirtey's AED drone delivery service has the potential to save more than 100,000 lives per year and more than a million American lives over each decade to come.