Earlier today, the Federal Aviation Administration released it’s long-awaited report titled “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.” The FAA report, dated June 18th, was greatly anticipated as it would outline the FAA’s regulatory position on the use of flying drones by private individuals and businesses.
Recreational drone use permitted
The FAA defines drones as a type of “model aircraft”, and the report formalizes the legality of the use of drones within the limits of personal hobbying and recreation.
The relevant passage from the FAA report that outlines the acceptable use of drones specifically bans commercial uses such as drone delivery. “Clearly, commercial operations would not be hobby or recreation flights. Likewise, flights that are in furtherance of a business, or incidental to a person’s business, would not be a hobby or recreation flight.”
Amazon Prime Air drone delivery is grounded
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced its Amazon Prime Air drone delivery service on 60 Minutes in December of last year. Many pundits deemed the whole announcement a publicity stunt that obviously couldn’t actually be carried out.
The company released a statement regarding its drone delivery plans in reply to its critics. “It looks like science fiction, but it’s real. From a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles.”
Hope for the future
An article in Business Insider points out that there’s reason for Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to be hopeful about drone delivery in the future. That’s because in early June, the FAA granted oil company BP permission to fly commercial drones in Alaska.
“These surveys on Alaska’s North Slope are another important step toward broader commercial use of unmanned aircraft,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
BP is using drones to monitor oil rigs and pipelines for maintenance, but according to analysts, this move has likely opened the door for at least some limited commercial uses of drones down the road.