Amazon has cleared another hurdle, bringing its Drone-flying dreams one step closer to mass market reality.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave Amazon the green light on Thursday. While not an all out, open-ended ticket to the friendly skies, the FAA did grant Amazon Logistics, the e-commerce brand's delivery arm, with a certificate of "experimental airworthiness."
Basically, that means Amazon can start testing its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for research and development.
The Internet giant first unveiled its Prime-branded drone delivery program in late 2013 -- much to the simultaneous amazement and cautious fear of consumers everywhere.
Dubbed Prime Air, the technology is much more than a simple dream but not quite ready for action yet. The Seattle-headquartered company was aiming for takeoff within a few years.
The 'Everything' store tangentially followed up in September with an online Drone Store to cater to creative aerial needs, hawking accessories for UAV enthusiasts, such as cases, batteries and propellers.
Following Amazon and with projects sprouting out of the ground these days like daisies from Facebook and Google, among others, the FAA started to burst some bubbles with restrictions on commercial use issued last fall.
With its certificate in hand, Amazon has to adhere to the following guidelines:
- All flight operations must be conducted at 400 feet or below during daylight hours in visual meteorological conditions.
- Drones must always remain within visual line-of-sight of the pilot and observers.
- UAV pilots controlling the drones must have at least a private pilot's certificate and current medical certification.
- Amazon must report back and provide data to the FAA on a monthly basis. Data must include 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.
The Prime Air program currently hosts development centers in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and Israel, with additional testing at multiple other unnamed international locations.