Amazon can now start testing out a drone delivery system in the US

Image: AP Photo/Amazon
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Amazon has won a license from the US Federal Aviation Administration to start testing a drone program.

The “experimental airworthiness certificate” was awarded to Amazon logistics, the shipping arm of Amazon. Test flights must be operated during the daytime, and all data about the flights must be shared monthly with the FAA. Also, in keeping with regulations pushed through in February, the aerial equipment must remain in view of its operators at all times—a requirement that some thought would hamper the company’s development plans.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced his desire to create a drone-based delivery system on CBS’s 60 Minutes in 2013, and the company publicly called on the FAA to change its policies towards drones in 2014.

There’s no guarantee that the FAA will grant Amazon a license to operate a full-scale drone program down the line. But for now, Bezos is a step closer to his goal of offering 30-minute delivery by drone for Amazon Prime customers, who currently pay $99 a year for shipping deals and other benefits.

Read the FAA’s statement in full below:

The Federal Aviation Administration today issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to an Amazon Logistics, Inc. unmanned aircraft (UAS) design that the company will use for research and development and crew training. The FAA typically issues experimental certificates to manufacturers and technology developers to operate a UAS that does not have a type certificate.

Under the provisions of the certificate, all flight operations must be conducted at 400 feet or below during daylight hours in visual meteorological conditions. The UAS must always remain within visual line-of-sight of the pilot and observer. The pilot actually flying the aircraft must have at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification.

The certificate also requires Amazon to provide monthly data to the FAA. The company must report the number of flights conducted, pilot duty time per flight, unusual hardware or software malfunctions, any deviations from air traffic controllers’ instructions, and any unintended loss of communication links. The FAA includes these reporting requirements in all UAS experimental airworthiness certificates.

Quartz has reached to Amazon, but the company was not immediately available for comment.