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Amazon gets FAA approval for delivery drones

written by Hannah Dowling | September 1, 2020

Amazon’s Prime Air drones are capable of carrying packages up to 2.3 kilograms. (Amazon)

Amazon has received federal approval in the US to use its Prime Air drones to deliver packages, which could see package delivery times cut to 30 minutes or less.

The US Federal Aviation Administration confirmed on Monday that it had issued a Part 135 air carrier certificate to Amazon for its fleet of Prime Air drones, allowing the company to expand its network of unmanned package delivery processes in the future.

While Amazon has not confirmed when American customers can expect their packages to be delivered by drones, it acknowledged that the FAA certification was an “important step” in realising the company’s goal to reduce package delivery times, to the point of being almost instantaneous. 

David Carbon, vice president of Prime Air, said that the certification “indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver around the world.”

He added that Amazon would “continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realise our vision of 30-minute delivery.”

The company said it was required to submit sufficient evidence of the safety of its operations with these new delivery drones, and to demonstrate those operations for the agency prior to certification being awarded.

Amazon revealed its fully electric delivery drone, which can hold packages up to 2.27 kilograms, at a conference in Las Vegas in 2019. 


The drone reportedly has “advanced spatial awareness technology” that allows it to avoid contact with other objects, according to the company.

While Amazon already offers one-day delivery in many localities, shortening delivery times has been a long-held goal of the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos, who has been anticipating the use of drones as a means of package delivery since as early as 2013.

Seven years on, Amazon is only the third company to receive a Part 135 air carrier certificate for the use of drones, following Google’s Wing Aviation and UPS. Neither company has implemented drone delivery as of yet.


Meanwhile, the FAA is gearing up for drones to be used more widely, with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao recently announcing the agency would be providing US$7.5 million in grants to universities for research on “the safe integration of drones into our national airspace”.

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