Amazon has sought from the U.K. government approval to test a delivery service using drones as regulations in the U.S. are too onerous. This was confirmed by the U.K.’s transport minister, Robert Goodwill.
Amazon eyes drone deliveries in U.K.
Amazon reportedly approached the U.K. government about test flights for its Prime Air service, which will use small unmanned aircraft to get purchases into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less.
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The U.K. transport minister confirmed the developments at a press conference for driverless cars and made the comments when discussing the government’s role in embracing wider technology. Goodwill said: “I had some people from Amazon coming to see me the other day; they want to replace van deliveries with drone deliveries, and they can’t do any trials in the U.S. because they’re over-regulated.”
The transport minister said the U.K. is very interested in how it can be at the forefront of drone technology and development. He added: “We’re working with Amazon. And Government is working on the whole issue of drones. We’re meeting with the British Airline Pilots Association and we’re both keen to innovate.”
However, the minister added that legislative issues around drones were confusing. Confirming that the government is working to tackle the challenges, he said: “If I’m selling my house I can use a drone to take an aerial photograph and give it to an estate agent to use but he cannot take his own one using a drone and use that.”
Amazon got FAA approval
As detailed by ValueWalk, last week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an experimental airworthiness certificate for Amazon’s unmanned aircraft (UAS) or drone design for research and development and 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.
Noting that it took the FAA more than half a year longer than other countries to issue a permit, Amazon emphasized that the FAA’s regulatory approval was “more restrictive” compared with permits issued by the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
Under U.S. law, operating drones for commercial purposes is illegal. However it is allowed in the U.K. if permission is granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The FAA is said to be currently reviewing its rules on drones, with new regulations expected to be announced in the near future. The U.K.’s CAA has laid out guidelines for drone users which specify that unmanned aircraft must always be flown within the “line of sight” of the pilot, which it generally measures at 1,600 feet horizontally and 400 feet vertically.
Interestingly, Chinese Internet giant Alibaba has recently started its own drone delivery trial in China.