FAA approves Amazon Prime Air for commercial drone operations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Amazon Prime Air a Part 135 air carrier certificate after a five-phase certification process. This effectively grants Amazon permission to use their drones for package delivery. UPS and Alphabet’s Wing, which was previously under the Google X umbrella, have preceded Amazon in becoming certified.

While the FAA is still working with industry, state and other governments to develop rules and regulations for unmanned aircraft systems, Part 135 certification is currently the only legal route for companies to operate drones beyond visual line of sight from the pilot. Amazon will use its certification to begin testing deliveries in the United States, after a first experimental drone delivery in Britain in 2016. They have not commented on when and where these tests will take place.

Amazon has gone through a series of aircraft designs for their drones, but all feature an eVTOL design. The latest design made public features a hexagon-shaped shroud around 4 rotors that serves as a lifting surface after transitioning to horizontal flight.

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