Amazon gets permission from FAA to start testing delivery drones in US

20 Mar 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US has granted Amazon permission to start R&D on delivery drones that could potentially carry goods bought online to the doorstep of shoppers within an hour.

Last year Amazon revealed that it is working on Amazon Prime Air, a project that could revolutionise e-commerce as we know it.

However, the FAA has been taking a hard line on the prospect of drones in business and has proposed rules that could ban drones from operating outside of the operators’ line of sight, a move that could shoot services like Prime Air out of the sky.

Meanwhile countries like Ireland are working to create the regulatory environment to encourage aerial drone companies to practice R&D and Hailo founder Jay Bregman is understood to be locating his drone start-up Verifly in Dublin.

However, yesterday the FAA granted an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon Logistics, Inc. unmanned aircraft (UAS) design that the company will use for research and development and crew training.

“Under the provisions of the certificate, all flight operations must be conducted at 400 feet or below during daylight hours in visual meteorological conditions,” the FAA said.

“The UAS must always remain within visual line-of-sight of the pilot and observer. The pilot actually flying the aircraft must have at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification.

“The certificate also requires Amazon to provide monthly data to the FAA. The company must report the number of flights conducted, pilot duty time per flight, unusual hardware or software malfunctions, any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions, and any unintended loss of communication links. The FAA includes these reporting requirements in all UAS experimental airworthiness certificates,” it said.

Delivery drones image at top via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years