Amazon Drone Program Asks FAA Permission to Fly
Amazon's plan to start shipping deliveries via drone is really underway, as evinced by a letter the company sent to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week. In fact, Amazon is "incredibly passionate about" its Amazon Prime Air feature, wherein airborne drones would deliver packages to registered customers "in 30 minutes or less," according to the letter.
In the letter, Amazon says that it is developing drones that can travel over 50 miles per hour and carry packages of up to 5 pounds (which it says covers 86% of all packages sold on Amazon). The letter also asks the FAA to grant the company "expedited operational authorization" to research and develop civil unmanned aircraft under the FAA Modernization Reform Act of 2012.
According to the letter, sent by Amazon's VP of global public policy Paul Misener, Amazon is already on its eighth- and ninth-generation drones, and has been conducting private research indoors at a facility in Seattle. But it needs special permission to start testing the drones for outdoors use.
The FAA Modernization Reform Act of 2012 gives the FAA funding to update its air traffic control regulations, which is necessary before commercial drones can legally take to the skies. But the act also allows for some exemptions for the sake of drone research and development. That's what Amazon is requesting in this letter.
Many were originally skeptical of Bezos' drone plan, since the announcement first came just before the 2013 holiday season, leading many to think Bezos was just trying to put Amazon in people's heads.