Amazon's drone delivery program was given an "experimental airworthiness certificate" by the FAA on Thursday, which will allow the company to test the unmanned aircrafts outdoors.
"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 Federal Aviation Administration wrote on its website
Drones "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," it added.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the company's concept for a drone package delivery service in late 2013, generating buzz among both technology enthusiasts and consumers in general.
The New York Times reported
that until this week, the online retail giant had been testing "Amazon Prime Air" indoors due to federal regulations. With the new certificate, testers will be able to move their flights outdoors.
Along with scores of other companies interested in drones for commercial purposes, Amazon lobbyists had long pressed the FAA to develop a framework for testing drones and eventually bringing them to market. If they didn't act, the industry — and all the jobs it could generate — would move overseas, it warned.
Last month, the FAA finally released a regulatory proposal. It suggested drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, stay under 500 feet, go no faster than 100 mph, and be flown in the line of sight of the operator.
Those rules wouldn't allow for package delivery by drone, as such a service would require the drone to leave the operator's line of sight.
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