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FAA gives Amazon the OK to conduct drone tests

Billy Steele
March 19, 2015
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After threatening to take its drone tests elsewhere, the FAA granted the online retailer permission to test its unmanned aircraft. If you'll recall, Bezos & Co. weren't interested in leveraging any of the government-approved test sites for drone trials, wanting instead to fly near its Seattle R&D facility. The "experimental airworthiness certificate" awarded today allows Amazon to make test flights at 400 feet or below, so long as the unmanned aircraft stays within the pilot's sight. What's more, any testing must be done during the day, with a private pilot's certificate and medical credentials required for anyone behind the controls. As is the case with this type of permit, the FAA requires monthly reports that include the number of flights, pilot time, any issues that arise, if there's a loss of communication and if the pilot has to deviate from the air traffic controllers' cues. Back in January, the FAA teamed up with CNN to look into the use of drones for news coverage, so we could certainly see even more of the flying machines take off soon. Of course, we'll still have to wait a while to receive packages via drone, but at least Amazon is getting to test in its own backyard.

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