Amazon just scored a big win for its delivery drones ambitions

Amazon Drone Smaller Reuters/Gus Ruelas / AmazonCEO Jeff Bezos and an Amazon delivery drone

Amazon’s drone delivery ambitions just scored a big win: The Federal Aviation Administration granted the company an “experimental airworthiness certificate” that will let it conduct test flights outside during daylight hours.

Previously, Amazon was conducting its tests within company facilities.

There are still a bunch of rules — Amazon’s drones must remain in sight of trained pilots and the company needs to report all its data to the FAA — but it’s a big step forward for the project.

Here’s the full statement from the FAA:

The Federal Aviation Administration today issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon Logistics, Inc. unmanned aircraft (UAS) design that the company will use for research and development and crew training. The FAA typically issues experimental certificates to manufacturers and technology developers to operate a UAS that does not have a type certificate.

Under the provisions of the certificate, all flight operations must be conducted at 400 feet or below during daylight hours in visual meteorological conditions. The UAS must always remain within visual line-of-sight of the pilot and observer. The pilot actually flying the aircraft must have at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification.

The certificate also requires Amazon to provide monthly data to the FAA. The company must report 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 FAA includes these reporting requirements in all UAS experimental airworthiness certificates.

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