FAA Announced Its Small Drone Registration Rules
In November, Amazon unveiled a new drone prototype aircraft for its still-in-development Prime Air package delivery system, this time with a model that takes off and lands vertically but flies on a horizontal flight path to its destination. The drone design is a flat-looking flying machine with a triple rudder tail and three landing wheels. Its engine is mounted at the rear in the center of the vertical rudders. Amazon's drone program is aimed at providing package deliveries of less than five pounds to consumers in less than 30 minutes in select locations. The drones will fly under 400 feet in altitude, have "sense and avoid" capabilities to stay away from aircraft and other obstacles, and be able to be operated up to distances of 10 miles or more, according to Amazon. Amazon has been looking at drone deliveries as a way of offering faster service to customers while also saving money, compared with the more costly human-based delivery systems. The FAA has been working since 2012 to develop rules and procedures for the commercial use of drones in the United States. In June, an FAA spokesman said the agency is working to have drone regulations in place by mid-2016. Now, the agency has shortened that timeline, saying it will be next April or so. The regulations will govern drone flights and keep them safely away from commercial and private aircraft traffic as well as pedestrians and other hazards on the ground. Walmart also recently began to seek permission from the FAA to test-fly package delivery drones outdoors in hopes that it can put together a method to zoom packages to consumers in the future. The company has applied to the FAA for approval of proposals to provide package home delivery, curbside pickup and warehouse inventory checking as it looks to find new ways of shipping purchases to consumers.