Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Amazon Gets Its Wish as FAA Drone Approval Speeds Up

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Amazon Gets Its Wish as FAA Drone Approval Speeds Up

Article excerpt

Amazon and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have had a bumpy relationship this year. But after some loud protesting by Amazon, the FAA has again granted the online retail giant permission to begin testing its latest commercial drones.

In a letter Wednesday, the FAA approved the Seattle-based company's second request to test its prototype drones outdoors, issuing Amazon an experimental airworthiness certificate. The e- commerce company will be required to have its drones maintain an altitude of no more that 400 feet and travel no faster than 100 miles per hour, as first reported by Reuters.

"We're pleased the FAA has granted our petition for this stage of R&D experimentation, and we look forward to working with the agency for permission to deliver Prime Air service to customers in the United States safely and soon," says Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president for global public policy, via e-mail to Engadet.

Amazon has had a lot of red tape to cut through since it first announced its plans for a drone delivery program back in December 2013 and it's mostly come from the US governmental agency.

In 2012, Congress ordered the FAA to integrate UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) into the same airspace as passenger planes by September 2015. The FAA has hinted that it's unlikely to meet that deadline.

While the FAA has made progress in laying the groundwork for the legalization of commercial drone usage, it mostly applied to fields dealing with research, filming, or agricultural purposes. The new rules, proposed in February this year, required that drones remain within sight of the operator, prohibited them from flying over anyone unless they were "directly involved with the flight," and - the biggest kicker for Amazon - denied permission to drop items such as packages from the sky.

By March, the FAA granted Amazon permission to test a prototype drone for the first time, but a week later, the company announced it had already moved on to testing newer UAVs overseas and the approved prototype was obsolete after the six-month wait from the US government. …

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