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MSCAA, FedEx continue drone operations through FAA’s BEYOND program

BEYOND Drone ProgramMEMPHIS, Tenn. (March 20, 2023) – The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) and FedEx Express (FedEx) continue working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop safe procedures for drone operations within the perimeter of an FAA-towered airport as part of FAA’s BEYOND drone program. The overall objective of the MSCAA’s participation in the program is to establish common drone flight procedures, safety protocols and policy for the FAA to authorize regular drone operations at any airport in the United States National Airspace System.

Over the past few years, MSCAA and FedEx have introduced drone flight operations in Memphis as part of their participation in the FAA’s BEYOND program. To date, the team has flown approximately 2,000 successful drone flights.

The most recent drone flight operations took place over the FedEx ramp and near the southwest perimeter of Memphis International Airport’s airfield along Airways Boulevard. The goal of these operations was to detect foreign object debris (FOD) to enhance airfield safety and conduct security inspections along the airport perimeter fence line to supplement existing security systems and protocols. FedEx has also utilized drones to perform aircraft inspections. In addition, future operations include aircraft parts delivery. 

In May 2018, MSCAA was one of 10 participants selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to participate in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integrated Pilot Program (UAS IPP). The goal of the UAS IPP was to conduct advanced drone operations in select airspaces to generate data and knowledge for future UAS policymaking. The Memphis team tested various on-airport operations at Memphis International Airport, including aircraft inspections, small (i.e., under 10 pounds) aircraft parts delivery, ramp FOD detection, security monitoring of the ramp, and security/perimeter fence surveillance. Upon conclusion of the three-year program, MSCAA was then selected by the FAA for its new drone program, BEYOND.

The BEYOND program was launched on October 26, 2020 as a four-year initiative. It focuses on working toward operating under established rules rather than waivers, collecting data to develop performance-based standards, collecting and addressing community feedback, understanding the potential and realized societal, economic and community benefits of drone use, and streamlining the approval processes for drone integration.

Latest Photos:

Ops Video:

Footage Along Airways and 18R/36L

Footage Along Tchulahoma and the eastern FedEx fence line

Delivery operation from FedEx parts warehouse to a FedEx Line Maintenance Shack

To learn more about the program, visit www.flymemphis.com/drones. More information about the FAA’s BEYOND program can be found at https://www.faa.gov/uas/programs_partnerships/beyond. MSCAA has also created a survey in order to gather community feedback. The survey can be found at http://bit.ly/MEMdronesurvey.