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Amazon Drones Could Be Cleared for Flight – Eventually

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a proposed framework of regulations around the use of drones, aka unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), taking ecommerce drone deliveries from Amazon or UPS a step closer to reality.

In its story Sunday about the new proposed regulations, the Washington Post wrote, “The FAA’s draft rules would make it relatively simple for real estate agents, aerial photographers, police departments, farmers and anyone else to fly small drones for work purposes. Operators would need to pass a written proficiency test, register the drone and pay about $200 in fees – but would not have to obtain a regular pilot’s license or demonstrate their flying skills.”

The rules apply to drones under 55 pounds, and the FAA is asking the public to comment on whether to include a more flexible framework for “micro” drones (under 4.4. pounds).

The FAA is also asking for comment about how the agency can further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.”

It was just over a year ago when Amazon made the surprising revelation it had been working on a secret R&D project, octocopter drones that could fly packages directly to shoppers’ homes in 30 minutes. But as we’ve previously reported , the U.S. does not allow for the commercial use of drones, which some believe puts the country at a disadvantage when it comes to innovation.

Earlier this month, Alibaba Group’s Taobao marketplace tested drone-delivery technology in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The video on Alizila website shows a compelling picture of ecommerce drone delivery.

The announcement and the rules (PDF) are published on the FAA.gov website.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.