Startup completes first ever FAA-approved drone delivery in US

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Friday, July 17, 2015

WISE COUNTY, Va. (KGO) -- A startup company on Friday completed what it called the first ever Federal Aviation Administration-approved drone delivery in the United States.

Drones operated by the company Flirtey and a full-sized aircraft operated by a NASA research center delivered medical supplies by air on Friday to a secluded clinic in Wise County, Va.

The delivery to the temporary clinic, which is usually supplied by trucks, was given the green light by the FAA last month.

By noon, Flirtey announced it has made two successful deliveries. It posted updates and pictures on Twitter throughout the day, with one showing a hexacopter with a container of supplies hanging from the bottom.Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) was on hand Friday. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) also applauded the delivery in a news release. The state hosts one of six commercial drone test sites around the country.

"Today's successful delivery was a win for Virginia's test site, and a landmark moment for the unmanned systems industry," Warner said. "These flights highlight the humanitarian possibilities of this technology and I'm looking forward to additional successes that will position Virginia as a leader in this burgeoning field."

The company itself compared the moment Friday to the first time that Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully flew an airplane in 1903.

The FAA proposed rules in February that would allow for the use of small commercial drones. Those rules required operators to keep drones within their line of sight and created height restrictions. Some companies like Amazon have pushed for more relaxed rules to allow its goal of home-delivering packages using its vehicles.