“It’s a bird.”
“No, it’s a plane…wait, no, it’s Superm…oh, it’s just another Amazon delivery drone.”
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This conversation is likely to play out all across the country, as it appears that Amazon has finally won approval from federal regulators to run real-world tests of a delivery drone, just around a month after the firm complained that regulators were being very slow in approving commercial drone testing.
Of note, the Federal Aviation Administration had given permission for tests of an Amazon prototype drone back in March, but the global etailer replied that the prototype drone had already become obsolete during the more than six month delay waiting for the FAA’s permission. The FAA acceded to Amazon’s most recent request to test delivery drones in a letter dated Thursday, April 9th on the agency’s website.
More on FAA approval for test of Amazon delivery drones
The FAA issued an “experimental airworthiness certificate” to Amazon Thursday, allowing the company to test its unmanned aircraft. However, the certificate does include a number of restrictions on the delivery drone test flights. For example, Amazon can only fly its test drones during daylight and in clear weather conditions. Moreover, the drones must fly in the line of sight of the pilot (who is required to have a private pilot’s certificate), and an observer must be present. The drones are also not permitted to operate at higher than 400 feet above the ground or fly at faster than 100 miles per hour.
Amazon.com has been working on its goal of delivering packages to customers by air via small, self-piloted aircraft for several years now, even though regulators had been very dubious. The firm wants has announced in the past it wants to use drones to deliver packages to its customers over distances up to 10 miles or more, which means drones would have to travel independently and have technology to prevent collisions with other aircraft.