Look, up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, NO IT’S AMAZON. Ok, so I’m being a bit dramatic and showing my age at the same time. But, this week, for the second time, the Federal Aviation Administration gave Amazon clearance to flight test their delivery drones in the United States. The FAA had previously given that clearance to Seattle’s mega-corporation a month ago but, by the time the ok came through, the prototype that it applied to had already become obsolete. Amazon obviously tired of waiting for the official US stamp of approval, because they began testing at a location barely outside the US in Canada.
But, John Duncan, The Fed’s director of flight standards, finally sent a letter, part of which says,
“This letter is to inform you that we have granted your request for exemption. The exemption would allow the petitioner to operate an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to conduct outdoor research and development testing for Prime Air.”
Also outlined are the terms and limitations saying that Amazon can only conduct tests up to 400 feet, the drones must be in the line-of-sight of the operator at all times and that the drones cannot exceed 100 miles per hour. Most of which were in the FAA’s ‘proposed rules for commercial drones’ drafted this past February.
The rules, though very restrictive, seem to be the next step in making Amazon’s Prime Air, drone delivery service a reality. The service may be taking baby steps, but each step forward, no matter how small, must be considered progress.
How soon will we be able to open our front door, look up and watch our order approaching from the sky? No one can tell. But, it would seem that that day will be upon us at some point. Let’s pray that the FAA and Amazon make it a safe, effective win-win for everyone.
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