Amazon Prime Air has been awarded a Part 135 air carrier certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration, bringing the company closer to making its drone delivery service a reality.
“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operational and security processes for an autonomous drone delivery service,” said Amazon Prime Air vice president of David Carbone. Said in a statement to Fox Business.
To obtain Part 135 certification, Amazon was required to submit detailed evidence, including manuals and protocols for the operation, training, and maintenance of the autonomous drone delivery service, and demonstrate to the FAA that its operations were safe.
Karbonn did not offer a specific timeline for when drones would begin delivery to customers, noting that Prime Air was still testing and flying drones to develop and refine the delivery service.
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The online shopping giant has been working on drone delivery for years, but has been slowed down due to regulatory hurdles. Back in December 2013, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said in a TV interview that drones would fly to customer’s homes within five years.
Last year, Amazon unveiled self-piloting drones, which are fully electric, can carry five pounds of goods and are designed to deliver items by dropping them into a backyard in 30 minutes. At the time, an Amazon executive said that deliveries to shoppers were happening “within months”, but more than 14 months have passed since then.
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“The FAA’s role is to ensure that any UAS operation is executed safely,” a spokeswoman for the agency said in a statement. “The FAA supports innovation that is beneficial to the public, particularly during health or meteorological crises.”
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Amazon Prime Air is the third commercial UAS delivery service company in the United States, following approval by the FAA to Google’s Wing Aviation and UPS ‘Flight Forward.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.