Online retail giant Amazon.com has received a go-ahead from the federal government to try out its plan to use drones to deliver merchandise to customers.
“The Federal Aviation Administration granted the Seattle-based online retailer the ability to legally test its much-discussed Amazon Prime Air delivery drones on Thursday, a small win for the company, which has been tussling with the government for permission ever since CEO Jeff Bezos announced the program in a Dec. 2013 interview with ’60 Minutes,'” Forbes reports.
The news came on the same day Amazon announced the expansion of its one-hour delivery service on certain items into Miami and Baltimore. The service was previously offered in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.
“The FAA’s certification will require Amazon’s drone operators to have ‘at least a private pilot’s certificate,’ the same document required for a private, non-commercial plane owner to fly a Cessna,” Forbes notes. “Current drone hobbyists have no such license needed to operate their drones, while some companies have recently received case-by-case commercial exemptions that allow them to fly without the same conditions that have been placed on Amazon.”
The article quotes attorney Brendan Schulman of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel saying: “By insisting Amazon obtain an experimental airworthiness certificate, the FAA is treating drones the same as a Boeing 747 that’s operating for development or testing purposes. This approach is some progress for Amazon specifically, but it’s still limiting for innovating companies in general.”