Amazon Prime Air gets green light for drone delivery tests

Photo of author

By Larry Banks

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday granted Amazon permission to run its experimental drone programme in US airspace, making a significant step towards the company’s plans to roll out its drone delivery service called Amazon Prime Air.

Amazon Prime Air one step closer

The company has been given what’s called an “experimental airworthiness certificate”, which will allow it to fly unmanned aircraft systems outside, for research and development purposes. These type of experimental certificates are typically provided to technology developers and manufacturers, the FAA said.

However, there are many limitations on such certificates, that will apply to Amazon’s research and development department, such as a hard limit of 400 feet, daylight flying only, and line of sight operation. Also, each pilot must hold a pilot’s certificate and medical certificate, and the company has to issue monthly reports to the FAA.

Amazon Prime Air Concept

These rules are similar to those already proposed back in February by the FAA, which sought to impose limitations on private drone use. If Amazon’s project does get off the ground, it will need to overcome these boundaries or have special consideration from the FAA.

“Prime Air” is Amazon’s drone delivery concept that was unveiled in 2013, via a video that showed how unmanned drones could be used to deliver packages from the company’s warehouses to customers. The film was however shot outside of the US due to strict FAA regulations.

It remains to be seen how long Amazon Prime Air will take to become a reality, if ever.

Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos