Amazon gets FAA approval for drone operations

A drone in flight delivering a package

Amazon has received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate as a drone airline in the United States. This new development paves the way for the online giant to start offering commercial deliveries on a trial basis, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The FAA designated Amazon Prime Air an “air carrier,” the company said Monday. That allows Amazon to begin its first commercial deliveries in the U.S. under a trial program, using the high-tech devices it unveiled for that purpose last year.

“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air,” Amazon’s vice president in charge of Prime Air, David Carbon, told Bloomberg, adding that the decision “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.”

The FAA confirmed it had granted the approval, saying in a statement that it’s trying to support innovation in the expanding drone arena while ensuring that the devices operate safely.

The milestone has been a long time coming for Amazon, which announced its Prime Air plans way back in 2013. But hardware limitations, not to mention health and safety regulation, presented big challenges for the company. It made its first successful drone delivery in Cambridge, England in 2016, but a regular commercial service never followed.

Even now, Bloomberg notes that there are numerous hurdles standing in the way of Amazon and its competitors making routine deliveries. The FAA is expected to finalize new rules about flying drones over crowds before the end of the year.

Amazon told Bloomberg that it intends to begin making delivery tests, but it declined to provide further details.

This story was first published by Bloomberg