It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an … Amazon drone?
Amazon has just gotten the thumbs up from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to start using its Prime Air drone fleet for customer deliveries. On Saturday, the FAA granted Amazon Part 135 Certification, which means the company has the go-ahead to use drones to “safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers,” according to a statement from the FAA.
That doesn’t mean drones are going to start delivering packages immediately, per Amazon. Instead, it indicates that the FAA has reviewed all of Amazon’s safety procedures, and the company has passed muster. The certification gives Amazon the ability to begin testing and scaling a system that would use drones to deliver lightweight packages in 30 minutes or less from order.
“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and 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,” David Carbon, Amazon’s vice president of Prime Air, said. “We will 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 realize our vision of 30-minute delivery.”
Amazon is the third company to receive the certification for commercial drone delivery, behind Alphabet’s Wing and UPS Flight Forward. However, Wing and UPS are not shopping companies. That makes Amazon’s certification notable: Amazon would own the whole purchasing chain from customer shopping to fulfillment via drone.
Though Amazon has been working on drone delivery for years, it made significant progress last year when the company debuted its delivery drone in June 2019. The drone can deliver packages of under five pounds a distance of up to 15 miles in 30 minutes or less.