Integration Partnership Agreement (IPA) Program

The Integration Partnership Agreement (IPA) program was created as a natural evolution of the Partnership for Safety Plan (PSP). The IPA program will continue addressing and advancing complex drone operations by establishing working relationships with industry partners to aid the full integration of drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).

With the implementation of the IPA, the FAA will slowly phase out the PSP and once complete, allocate all resources to the new IPA program.

Goals

The IPA provides an arrangement to share mutually beneficial information, while building trust, leadership, and teamwork through a public-private relationship. By outlining the principles and procedures for early identification of critical issues and planning, the FAA can assist IPA participants in coordinating the safety cases necessary for operational approvals, and future projects can be completed more efficiently.

One of the primary objectives of the IPA program is to provide a framework for collaboration that focuses on complex operations. In turn, this arrangement will help further develop and normalize our review and approval processes in a way that will benefit the industry at large.

Selection Criteria

Selection of an IPA partner involves initial discussions with the candidate and a review of their proposed concept of operations (CONOPS). The candidate must demonstrate the potential to introduce either complex or new concept programs that provide benefit to the FAA’s strategic objectives. Any CONOPS presented as part of the IPA selection process should include a potential request for a waiver, an exemption, or other FAA issued authorization or certification. The candidate’s operations should support rulemaking, aid in promoting the safety of the NAS, or promote standards development. The candidate’s proposal needs to warrant additional program management rigor, and the candidate needs to have its own resources available and sufficient funding to participate in the program to complete the agreed upon objectives. The CONOPS must identify a proposed schedule, milestones, and desired outcomes for consideration by the FAA.

For more information or questions about the Integration Partnership Agreement (IPA) program contact the UAS Support Center. The Government reserves the right to select any, all, part, or none of the proposed projects. IPA selection is subject to the availability of resources and FAA’s current needs.

IPA Partners

Guardian Agriculture

drone in front of tractor

Operations

  • Guardian Agriculture accelerates sustainable farming with autonomous, eVTOL systems built for commercial scale.
  • Guardian’s mission is to define a new age of crop protection—empowering farmers and their partners to refine their chemical use and grow more with less.
  • Guardian is focused on delivering cost-effective full-field coverage, with less fuel consumption, less chemical use, less soil compaction, and less resistance over traditional application methods.

Integration Goals

  • Define an acceptable level of safety and certification risk associated with large UAS Part 137 operations.
  • Assist in the development of industry standards for large-scale large UAS operations under Part 137.
  • Advancing risk and performance based regulatory frameworks including Type Certification, Production Certification, and Part 137 Certification.
  • Explore enhancements in U.S. food security through precision application of products utilizing 100% domestic built aviation systems.

Xcel Energy

Drone flying in front of van with man in background

Operations

  • Xcel Energy uses and is developing UAS operations (BVLOS & remote operations) to support its vision of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity and net-zero natural gas by 2050.

  • UAS operations help monitor and inspect critical generation, transmission, distribution and natural gas infrastructure, supporting a safe and reliable energy system.

  • Xcel Energy uses UAS to conduct emergency operations and power restoration activities, helping to reduce outage times, as well as security and public safety operations.
     

Integration Goals

  • Operations conducted under Part 107, Part 107 Waivers and Part 91, enable a variety of scalable, repeatable and economically viable operations and response types.

  • Xcel Energy’s team includes full-time UAS pilots, field crews equipped with UAS and industry partners who support day-to-day UAS operations across the eight states the company serves. This team integrates SMS, regulatory capability, training programs, operations excellence and more than 100 types of operations across the company.
     

Florida Power and Light

Man with safety vest and hardhat touching the arm of a drone on a platform

Operations

  • Critical infrastructure inspections (power plants and electric lines, solar farms, nuclear facility cooling canals, etc.) and storm response damage assessment.

Integration Goals

  • The parties are committed to facilitating the standards for a variety of use cases including: beyond visual line of sight, operations over people, one pilot for multiple UAs, remote identification, highly automated operations and night operations to facilitate critical infrastructure inspection and post disaster assessment of Next Era Energy/Florida Power and Light assets.
  • Operations are conducted under Part 107 (with appropriate waivers) or Part 91 with Certificate of Authorizations issued by the Air Traffic Organization.

Drone Racing League (DRL)

illuminated racing drone in a darkened stage

Operations

  • Develop the criteria for and implement regulatory approvals necessary for DRL to conduct demonstrations, air shows, exhibitions, and events at different venues throughout the United States.

Integration Goals

  • Support the establishment of a standardized set of safety protocols for individuals and/or organizations seeking to conduct UAS demonstrations, air shows, exhibitions, and events in the NAS through:
    • Systematically evaluating methods, processes, and technologies to inform and provide recommendations to the FAA.
    • Supporting development of UAS event execution standards and practices with respect to permitting/approvals and safety in order to maximize safety while minimizing the administrative burden on the FAA and parties seeking to conduct UAS events.
    • Educating the public on UAS safety via community outreach and engagement on social media.

UPS Flight Forward Inc.

UPS Flight ForwardOperations

  • Delivery of time-sensitive healthcare items such as lab specimens, infusion kits, medicine, and medical supplies on hospital campuses.
  • Business to consumer (B2C) drone delivery.
  • Creation of a remote operations center.

Integration Goals

  • Gain feedback from local communities to address concerns and clearly define socioeconomic benefits.
  • Use part 135 Air Carrier Certificate to identify scalable, repeatable and economically viable beyond visual line of sight (BLVOS) flight procedures to support various use cases.
  • Inform new policies to safely arrive at more complex operations.
  • Accelerate the deployment of advanced technology to ensure customers get what they need, when they need it
  • Eventual integration of drone delivery into the UPS Smart Logistics Network.

Wing (an Alphabet company)

drone flying over a residential homeOperations

  • Provide routine delivery of medicine, food and household essentials to homes typically in 10 minutes or less as a safer, faster, and more sustainable alternative to transportation by road.

Integration Goals

  • Support safe and responsible operations in shared airspace by:
    • Continuing to engage, listen, and respond to local communities;
    • Enabling routine BVLOS operations in underutilized airspace through a range of technologies and practices;
    • Supporting the adoption of a safe, secure, open, and scalable UTM framework.
    • Advancing risk and performance based regulatory frameworks including Type Certification, Production Certification, Air Carrier operation and BVLOS operations.

PSP Partners

Amazon Prime Air

Amazon delivery droneOperations

  • Safe and reliable operation of the Amazon Prime Air UAS that will deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.
  • Routine beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) UAS commercial package delivery operations.

Integration Goals

  • Support regulatory and operational frameworks needed to facilitate commercial UAS use cases. Key focus areas include UAS traffic management (UTM) systems, detect-and-avoid (DAA) capabilities, UAS air carrier, type and production certification, and airspace integration.
  • Improve risk-based decision-making methods and advocate for adoption of safety management system concepts with appropriate controls and oversight.

American Tower

tower rising above trees

Operations

  • Performance of safe and compliant UAS operations to inspect and analyze wireless communication infrastructure facilities to support efficient deployment of new wireless technologies, including public safety networks, while reducing the need to climb towers
  • Performance of safe and routine UAS operations in controlled airspace without contemporaneous approval from Air Traffic Control.
  • Remove personnel from dangerous jobs while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of wireless infrastructure inspection.
  • Reduce industry operational costs and increase operating efficiency while implementing safety enhancements to current practices.

Integration Goals

  • Develop and document a scalable, repeatable, and economically viable approach for UAS operations around vertical structures (e.g., wireless and broadcast towers, antennas and similar vertical structures) within controlled airspace ensuring safe integration of these operations in the NAS.
  • Support the development of safety standards and recommended practices for the wireless and broadcast communications industry to perform UAS operations around vertical structures while operating in controlled airspace.
  • Establish national policy for UAS operations around vertical structures while maintaining publicly accepted levels of safety, security, and privacy.

B+T

B+T GRP logo

Operations

  • Using UAS on automated flight plans to collect comprehensive data on the entire infrastructure compound all in one visit.
  • Eliminate unnecessary site visits in preparing or planning for equipment installation or modification. Provide a 360-degree, photographic tour of all compounds on a site with centimeter accuracy reducing industry operational costs and increase operating efficiency while implementing safety enhancements to current practices.
  • Safe and routine UAS operations in controlled airspace without contemporaneous approval from Air Traffic Control.

Integration Goals

  • Develop and document a scalable, repeatable, and economically viable approach for infrastructure site planning, evaluation and analysis within controlled airspace ensuring safe integration of these operations in the NAS.
  • Support the development of standards and recommended practices supporting the wireless industry with turnkey services for Engineering, Site Development and Field Services while operating in controlled airspace without contemporaneous Air Traffic Control approval.
  • Establish national policy for inspections of public service vertical structures while maintaining publicly accepted levels of safety, security, and privacy.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway

flying surveillance planeOperations

  • Linear inspections over critical infrastructure for safety, security, and monitoring of the nation's important cargo

Integration Goals

  • The objective of the FAA/BNSF Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) is to demonstrate detect and avoid technologies, develop a scalable method to enable operations that permit critical infrastructure inspections, and recommend strategies and/or effective mitigations to address other factors that affect BVLOS operations in the NAS.

  • The CRDA has applicability to both large and small UAS, and BNSF uses a range of uncrewed aircraft under both Part 91 and Part 107 to conduct operations and to support the CRDA

  • BNSF has achieved the goal of operationally deploying UAS for BVLOS flights throughout our rail network of approximately 33,400 miles of track; the present goal (supported by the CRDA) is increased deployment in support of operations in areas of greater perceived air and ground risk

Zipline

employees testing dronesOperations

  • Around the globe, Zipline operates the world’s largest automated, on-demand UAS commercial delivery service. As of March 2024, its proprietary fleet of small, quiet, electric UAS have safely completed nearly 1 Million commercial BVLOS deliveries of blood, vaccines, critical medical products, and commercial goods.
  • Zipline has expanded these highly impactful operations to the United States and currently conducts routine BVLOS and one-to-many deliveries that will one day enable all Americans, including those in rural, remote, and tribal communities, to achieve better access to medicine and other life enhancing products, while reducing carbon emissions.

Integration Goals

  • Zipline is achieving safe, scaled, socially beneficial UAS operations by:

    • Meeting community demand for safe, clean, quiet UAS operations;

    • Identifying and progressing the health, economic, and other benefits of UAS delivery operations deployed at scale through qualitative and quantitative analysis;

    • Implementing industry-leading technologies, procedures, and training requirements that enable safe BVLOS and one-to-many operations in complex air space and conditions; and

    • Driving the development of scalable processes for approvals of such technologies and operations using performance-based standards that enable safe airspace integration.
       

Note: All current PSPs will continue until expiration of the current MOU between the participant and the FAA. These participants may then transition to the IPA if it is determined there is a need and the participant meets the established criteria. New participants will be evaluated for IPA participation and not for PSP participation.

Last updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2024