A special certificate was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) yesterday, giving Amazon PrimeAir clearance to test fly drones over U.S skies.
The drone’s operator will need a pilot’s license. Amazon PrimeAir is a service that delivers packages to customers using drones operated by remote control. The drone must fly within the eye line of the pilot and remain below 400 metres. The PrimeAir delivery drones intend to deliver Amazon goods within 30 minutes, and cut down on fuel costs. The “experimental airworthiness certificate” issued by the FAA to Amazon could pave the way for commercial drone deliveries. United Parcel Services and Alibaba would like to follow in Amazon’s footsteps.
Belfast Telegraph reports: Formerly, it was illegal to use drones for commercial purposes in America, however, the latest announcement by the FAA could mark a new relaxing of this legislation. It comes just a month after the FAA published a proposal that outlined plans to help legalise commercial drone testing for a number different companies.
Amazon has been pushing to begin development of its PrimeAir service since December 2013, when their first drone prototype was unveiled. Since then, it has pushed the US aviation authority for permission to trial without much success until the FAA’s proposals last month. In December 2014, a letter from Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, Paul Misener, warned the FAA that the company may be forced to continue “expanding their Prime Air R&D footprint abroad.“
Amazon’s insistence on legalising the use of drones commercially in the US is part of its desire to be able to provide even quicker and even cheaper delivery services to its customers. The use of drones, would significantly cut down on fuel and transport costs, as well as making it possible for people to order and receive packages in lightning-fast time. Other companies that have announced their intentions to invest in drone testing for future commercial use include Ups and Chinese giant Alibaba.
Despite the new breakthrough decision, the FAA have stipulated that all drones must be flown within the eye line of the pilot and remain below 400 metres at all times. This will mean that for the time being at least, any meaningful commercial usage of drones, like for package deliveries over long distances will be limited.
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