Amazon.com criticized the regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test unmanned drones for package delivery as too late.
Amazon.com emphasized that FAA’s regulatory approval was “more restrictive” compared with the permit issued by the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The e-commerce giant noted that the agency took more than half a year longer than other countries to issue a permit for testing commercial drones.
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Last week, the FAA issued an experimental airworthiness certificate for Amazon.com’s unmanned aircraft (UAS) or drone design for research and development as well as crew training. The company is required to operate its drone 400 feet or below during the day, and the pilot flying the UAS must have at least a private pilot’s license and medical certification.
Amazon.com says the FAA needs impetus
During a hearing on Tuesday, Paul Misener, vice president for global public policy at Amazon.com told lawmakers that the company is no longer using the drone model approved by the FAA. According to him, the e-commerce giant already developed new drone models.
Misener urged the federal government to move faster in issuing regulatory approvals for testing commercial drones. He also emphasized that regulators in Asia and Europe are moving quickly, and the United States is falling behind.
“Our testing abroad has required but minimal aviation regulatory approval, low risk presented by our small UAS designs; the R&D nature of our flight activity; and our relatively rural test sites,” said Misener to the members of a subcommittee of the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation panel.
He added, “Nowhere outside the United States have we been required to wait more than one or two months to begin testing. What the FAA needs is impetus, lest the United States fall further behind.”
Last December, Amazon.com sent a letter to the FAA indicating its intention to move its research program to other countries if the agency fails to act quickly in approving the outdoors test flights of its drones.
FAA proposed rules for commercial drone flights
Last month, the FAA introduced its proposed rules for commercial drone flights that prohibit automated flights. The agency requires operators to keep the UAS within sight all the time. Amazon.com wants to program its drone to make the flight.
The FAA’s proposed rules received criticisms. In response, the agency’s associate administrator for safety, Peggy Gilligan emphasized that they are evaluating issues particularly the ability of unmanned aircrafts to detect and avoid other air traffic automatically.
During the hearing, Gilligan explained, “It’s a far more complex area, and it’s an area where we do not have the technology standards.” According to her, the FAA will have more information next year.