On Monday, August 31, 2020, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) issued Amazon a Part 135 air carrier certificate. The 135 air carrier certificate gives drones the authorization to transport small cargo beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Amazon has been testing its Prime Air drone delivery fleet for a while. With the approval Amazon can “safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers,” the company quoted.

A Crucial Step Towards Drone Delivery

The approval will give Amazon the liberty to fully test its drone delivery in civilian airspace. Amazon is the third company to receive the certification. The first two being UPS and Wing Aviation owned by Alphabet. Every organization that applies for the certification has to go through 5 phases of rigorous evaluation to prove that their drone delivery system is safe to use in civilian airspace BVLOS. Amazon began its drone trials in 2013 and after 7 years this is a significant step for the Prime Air platform.

Amazon Prime drone delivery
The Amazon Prime delivery drone

“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world,” David Carbon, vice president of Prime Air, said in a statement. “We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30 minute delivery.” he further added.

How long before Amazon’s drones make deliveries?

The actual deployment of the Prime Air drone fleet will take time. Amazon will now begin more intensive drone delivery testing before they send out their first commercial drone. The Prime Air program, which is only accessible to Prime members, promises deliveries under 30 minutes. However, future deliveries will still take place in low population density areas with light-weight payloads (under 5 pounds).

Amazon unveiled its unique electric delivery drone at the re:Mars 2019 in Las Vegas. The drone has a hexagonal hybrid design that protects the rotors and the main housing. The drone’s autopilot analyzes all of the sensor data of the drone and allows six degrees of maneuverable freedom. In fact, the drone is surrounded by infrared sensors and cameras on all sides to monitor its spatial environment. Amazon stated that the drone can carry out deliveries as far as 15 miles from its base station.

Here’s a look at Amazon’s delivery drone: