FAA clears Amazon’s fleet of Prime Air drones for liftoff

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  • The Federal Aviation Administration has issued Amazon permission to begin conducting delivery drone operations.
  • Amazon’s Prime Air drone project has been in the works since 2013.
  • The online retail giant received permission to begin testing drone deliveries in June 2019.
  • “Amazon Prime Air’s concept uses autonomous UAS to safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers,” a FAA spokesperson said in a statement sent to Business Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Federal Aviation Administration will allow Amazon’s fleet of Prime Air delivery drones to take flight.

A FAA spokesperson told Business Insider that the administration issued Amazon Prime Air its certificate on August 29. The Part 135 air carrier certificate allows Amazon to use “unmanned aircraft systems,” or UAS, in a commercial operation.

“Amazon Prime Air’s concept uses autonomous UAS to safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers,” the spokesperson said in a statement sent to Business Insider. “The FAA’s role is to ensure that any UAS operation is performed safely. The FAA supports innovation that is beneficial to the public, especially during a health or weather-related crisis.”

The certificate will allow Amazon to dive into operating a commercial drone delivery service, which has been in the works since 2013. The FAA gave Amazon permission to test its drones in the US in June 2019. FAA regulations hold that “Part 135 certification is the only path for small drones to carry the property of another for compensation beyond visual line of sight.”

In response to Business Insider’s request for comment, an Amazon representative sent a statement from Amazon Prime Air Vice President David Carbon.

“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world,” Carbon said. “We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realise our vision of 30-minute delivery.”

Amazon’s electric drones are installed with a sense-and-avoid system to avert crashes. To date, the company’s drone fleet has put in thousands of flight hours. Despite its new certification, Amazon will not be delivering packages to consumers yet. There is no word when its fleet of drones will be scaled and put to work fulfilling orders.

Amazon is also not the only player in the delivery drones game. In July, regional grocery chain Rouses Markets teamed up with last-mile delivery drone startup Deuce Drone for test flights in Alabama. The FAA has additionally issued Part 135 air carrier certificates to Alphabet’s Wing Aviation and UPS’ Flight Forward.