The FAA grants Amazon permission to begin testing delivery drones in US airspace

By Shawn Knight · 7 replies
Mar 20, 2015
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  1. amazon faa prime drones amazon prime air drone delivery delivery drones

    Amazon received a bit of good news heading into the weekend as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued the company an experimental airworthiness certificate. This coveted document allows the e-commerce giant to research, develop and test its proposed drone delivery service known as Amazon Prime Air.

    While no doubt seen as a step forward, Amazon will need to adhere to plenty of rules and regulations as it tests its planned service outdoors.

    As per the certificate, Amazon must perform all flight tests at an altitude of 400 feet or less during daylight hours in what the FAA calls meteorological conditions. What’s more, a Prime drone must remain within line-of sight of its pilot and observer. Every drone pilot must have at least a private pilot’s certificate as well as up-to-date medical certification.

    It doesn’t end here, however, as Amazon is further required to provide monthly data to the FAA including the number of flights conducted, pilot time per flight, any hardware or software abnormalities / malfunctions, any unexpected loss of communication with a drone and any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions.

    Amazon revealed its aerial ambitions in a 60 Minutes segment in early December of 2013. While some thought the program was a joke, Amazon was indeed serious about using drones to deliver packages to customers. Its plans were sidelined by the FAA last June but after Amazon threatened to take its research overseas, the FAA has clearly had a change of heart.

    Given the current restrictions (namely, line-of-sight operation), it's hard to see how Amazon or any other company could effectively use drones to deliver packages to customers.

    Permalink to story.

  2. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 349   +132

    Really? Baby-steps here....
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,990

    Interesting, particularly since the FAA has previously proclaimed that the first 499' above your property (ground) belongs to the individual. Given that fact and that our beloved state of Tennessee is another "stand your ground" state AND pound for pound may have the largest collection of shotguns in any one state ... does that mean that a drone flying over my property at less than 400 is fair game? I certainly hope Amazon is going to come negotiate with me concerning flight paths because I have a lot of free time on my hand as a retiree and the cost of clay pigeons has grown to the point that a drone would make a handy target for the dedicated trap and skeet shooter!
  4. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    "Every drone pilot must have at least a private pilot’s certificate as well as up-to-date medical certification"

    Ye because flying a drone is just like flying a private plane/jet... ok.... sure...
  5. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    The mechanics are different, but the airspace environment is the same. The whole "it's just an R/C toy!" argument is persuasive right up until a knucklehead drone pilot who only knows how to operate two sticks and a targeting reticle pilots his R/C copter right into the flightpath of a news chopper or a jet on approach/takeoff and causes an accident. At which point everyone asks, why aren't these guys licensed? followed by massive lawsuits and obligatory media hysteria.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,990

    Given the nature of Simtex, relatively low cost of some of these drones and the ease of learning, I am a little surprised that they are not MORE restrictive on their use. Of course, this is more of a "gloom and doom" point of view, but these days Murphey's law seems to be more of the norm rather than an exception.
  7. wastedkill

    wastedkill TS Evangelist Posts: 1,423   +350

    You mean like a RC helicopter that doesn't require a driving or flying license to use but you can always stick semtex onto it and bomb a plane with it.

    And the bit about it hitting a jet or something.... Dunno about you but thats as ridiculous as a drone bumping into the ISS and causing it to float towards the sun.
  8. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    "Aviation near-miss investigators have expressed considerable concern that a device believed to be a drone came within 20ft of an incoming passenger plane at Heathrow airport."

    "The board said its members were satisfied that the A320 crew had seen a model helicopter and were of the unanimous opinion that the operator of the model had chosen to fly it in an entirely inappropriate location."

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