Novant Health launches 1st emergency drone operation for hospital's pandemic response

Novant Health, Inc., a North Carolina-based not-for-profit, integrated healthcare system, has announced the launch of emergency drone logistics operation by a hospital for its pandemic response, the company said.

The launch was made possible through a partnership with Zipline, the world´s only national scale, on-demand logistics service, which will provide drone flight services.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Novant Health a Part 107 waiver to begin operation, which is being launched as part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation´s (NCDOT´s) Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program (IPP).

The operation provides contactless distribution of personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to Novant Health frontline medical teams in the Charlotte, North Carolina, metro area. The operation helps position Novant Health, which operates 15 hospitals and nearly 700 locations in the southeastern United States, to adapt quickly to the evolving pandemic and could lead to innovative uses such as testing, drug trials, and vaccine distribution in the future.

The operation will provide ongoing drone logistics flights in Class-D controlled airspace, where all air traffic is actively managed by the FAA, under a part 107 waiver issued to a major US healthcare system.

The FAA approved the pandemic response operation through Part 107 waivers granted to Novant Health. Zipline, which has partnered with Novant Health, will provide drone flight services under an agreement with Novant Health, supported by additional agreements among Novant Health, Zipline, and NCDOT.

Novant Health is an integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities, and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to communities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia.

Zipline is a national scale, on-demand drone logistics service. Its mission is to provide every human on Earth with instant access to vital medical supplies. Zipline´s drones have flown more than 1.8 million miles in multiple countries, delivered more than 110,000 medical products, and helped to save thousands of lives.