Amazon Prime Air lands FAA approval for drone deliveries


Amazon has been testing drones for delivering some small packages. 


Amazon Prime Air has cleared a regulatory hurdle, moving the online retail giant one step closer to dropping packages off at your doorstep with drones. The US Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday issued Amazon Prime Air a “Part 135 air carrier certificate,” allowing it to begin commercial drone deliveries in the US.

“Amazon Prime Air’s concept uses autonomous UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) to safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers,” said a spokesperson for the FAA on Monday. “The FAA supports innovation that is beneficial to the public, especially during a health or weather-related crisis.”

David Carbon, the head of Amazon Prime Air, called the certification an “important step forward,” adding that it indicates the FAA is confident 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.” 

FAA approval doesn’t mean everyone’s Amazon packages are going to be regularly delivered by drone right away. Amazon said it’ll take more time and work before its drone operations are ready to scale, but this approval will allow it to start testing customer deliveries. 

Amazon has talked up its drone delivery plans since 2013. The company has already piloted 30-minute deliveries in England and tested the service in controlled settings in the US. Prime Air is the third company to be cleared by the FAA for commercial drone deliveries, joining Alphabet’s Wing and UPS.

Carbon said Prime Air will continue to work with the FAA to realize its vision of 30-minute drone deliveries. 

CNET’s Ben Rubin contributed to this report. 

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