Fed Gives Amazon Drone Trial Approval

Amazon Prime Air has won the approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its drop of packages via air drones.

The FAA is the federal regulatory agency which is primarily responsible for the advancement, safety, and regulation of civil aviation as well as overseeing the development of air traffic control and researching and developing the National Airspace System and Civil Aeronautics.

In a July 9, 2014 letter to FAA administrator, Michael P. Huerta, Amazon noted that their new delivery system will get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using aerial vehicles.

Amazon Prime AirThe company also noted then that they had made advancements toward the development of highly-automated aerial vehicles that included:

Testing a range of capabilities for their eighth and ninth-generation aerial vehicles, covering agility, flight duration, redundancy, and sense-and-avoid sensors and algorithms;

Developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles per hour, and carry 5 pound payloads, which cover 86% of the products sold on Amazon; and

Attracting a growing team of world-renowned roboticists, scientists aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut.

The fact that FAA issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to Amazon  earlier this week puts the company one step closer to its goal.

Under the provision of the certificate issued to Amazon, all flight operations must be conducted at 400 feet or below during daylight hours in visual meteorological conditions. The UAS must always remain within visual line-of-sight of the pilot and observer. The pilot actually flying the aircraft must have at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification.

The certificate also requires Amazon to provide monthly data to the FAA. The company must report the number of flights conducted, pilot duty time per flight, unusual hardware or software malfunctions, any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions, and any unintended loss of communication links.

It’s important to note that the FAA includes these reporting requirements in all UAS experimental airworthiness certificates.

Davy Desmond, Readers Bureau, Fellow

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