Amazon wins FAA approval for Prime Air drone delivery fleet

  • Amazon on Monday received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate its fleet of Prime Air delivery drones.
  • The approval will give Amazon broad privileges to "safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers," the FAA said.
  • Amazon joins UPS and Alphabet-owned Wing, who previously won FAA approval for their drone delivery operations.

Amazon received federal approval to operate its fleet of Prime Air delivery drones, a milestone that allows it to expand unmanned package delivery, the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday. 

The approval will give Amazon broad privileges to "safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers," the FAA said. The FAA certification comes under Part 135 of FAA regulations, which gives Amazon the ability to carry property on small drones "beyond the visual line of sight" of the operator. 

Representatives from Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The company has zeroed in on drone delivery as part of a push to get packages quicker to Prime members. Since last year, Amazon has also invested billions of dollars to transition from two to one-day delivery. 

Amazon began testing delivery drones in 2013, aiming to drop off packages at customers' doorsteps in 30 minutes or less. In August 2019, the company submitted a petition for FAA approval of those plans. In its petition, Amazon said deliveries would occur in areas with low population density and packages would weigh 5 pounds or less.

The company debuted a new, electric delivery drone at its 2019 re:MARS conferencethat's capable of carrying packages under 5 pounds to customers within a half-hour and can fly up to 15 miles. Jeff Wilke, Amazon's CEO of worldwide consumer, said at the time that the drone could be used by the company "within months" to deliver packages.

Amazon isn't the only company seeking to expand commercial drone delivery. Last April, Alphabet-owned Wing became the first drone delivery company to receive FAA approval for commercial deliveries in the U.S. UPS last October won approval from the FAA to operate a fleet of drones as an airline. 

Correction: Updated headline to reflect the name of the drone service is Amazon Prime Air.

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