– FAA allows Amazon to fly drones experimentally (USA Today, March 20, 2015):
WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration approved Amazon Logistics Inc. on Thursday to fly drones experimentally.
The approval will allow the company to conduct research, development and crew training for deliveries called Amazon Prime Air.
The company is required to fly remote-controlled aircraft lower than 400 feet during daylight hours, and the pilot must have a private pilot’s certificate. Other restrictions include keeping the aircraft within view of its pilot or a partner, called a “visual observer,” and flying at least 500 feet away from people not associated with the experiments.
While Amazon is the highest-profile company to get FAA approval to fly drones commercially, the agency has granted 48 petitions through Friday for purposes such as movie-making, smokestack inspection, agriculture and aerial photography. But hundreds more applications are pending, as the industry urges faster regulatory action.
In 2012, Congress ordered the FAA to integrate drones into the skies with passenger planes by September 2015. Watchdogs have said the agency is unlikely to meet that deadline. The FAA proposal for small drones, which is open for public comment now, is expected to take 18 months to two years to complete.