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Amazon to FAA: Loosen Laws or Moving Research Abroad

December 9, 2014  - By
Image: GPS World is warning the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it will move its drone research abroad if it doesn’t get permission soon to test-fly in the United States, reports The Wall Street Journal. Amazon has already begun researching drone flights in the United Kingdom.

“Without the ability to test outdoors in the United States soon, we will have no choice but to divert even more of our [drone] research and development resources abroad,” wrote Amazon’s vice president of global public policy Paul Misener in a letter to the FAA, according to The Wall Street Journal. “I fear the FAA may be questioning the fundamental benefits of keeping [drone] technology innovation in the United States,” Misener wrote.

Current laws restrict the commercial use of unmanned aircraft in the United States. Amazon announced its intention to develop a drone delivery service in 2013.

The FAA is required by U.S. Congress to frame a “safe integration” plan for the commercial use of UAS by Sept. 30, 2015. Changes in the law could restrict users of commercial UAVs by requiring licenses, with licenses issued to users only after many hours in the cockpit of a manned aircraft, comparable to traditional pilot licenses. The new rules would also limit flights to under 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls, which is the current rule for hobbyists.

One of the FAA’s concerns is conflicts with manned aircraft. FAA data shows dozens of dangerous encounters around the country over the past six months, according to the Washington Post. Since June 1, commercial airlines, private pilots and air-traffic controllers have alerted the FAA to 25 episodes in which small drones came within a few seconds or a few feet of crashing into much larger aircraft. Many of the close calls occurred during takeoffs and landings at the nation’s busiest airports, presenting a new threat to aviation safety after decades of steady improvement in air travel.

Read one blogger’s account of a close call using a drone, partly caused by loss of the GPS signal.



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2 Comments on "Amazon to FAA: Loosen Laws or Moving Research Abroad"

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  1. Walter Greene says:

    My comment to Amazon is go ahead. Take it abroad. I have a private pilots license and the last thing I need to contend with are unmanned drones. The FAA is quite correctly attempting to establish operational rules for drones. Manned aircraft are required to maintain 500 feet above unpopulated areas and 1000 feet above populated areas with the obvious exception of take-offs and landings. As far as I’m concerned, Drones should not operate in any airspace above 500 feet. Flying not based on instrument flight plans (VFR) is operationally ‘see and avoid’. How is a drone going to ‘see’? Anyone who thinks it’s easy to spot a drone even in good weather and when knowing where to look is invited to try.

  2. EB says:

    Take your testing to the sovereign nations within the CONUS — Indian Reservations. Closer and more convenient than England, I would imagine.