Turns out the FAA’s approval for Amazon’s drone tests last week was meaningless for the Seattle company.
In prepared remarks to be delivered at a congressional hearing today, Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public policy, notes that the drone approved by the FAA “has become obsolete.” He also explains that Amazon is testing “more advanced designs” abroad.
You can watch Misener speak right now at this webcast.
Amazon on Thursday was granted an “experimental airworthiness certificate” from the FAA that allowed the Seattle company to test its unmanned aerial vehicles outdoors in preparation for drone delivery. The FAA said it “typically issues experimental certificates to manufacturers and technology developers to operate a UAS that does not have a type certificate.”
It appeared to be a milestone for Amazon, which had considered testing its drone delivery operations outside of the U.S. as it waited for FAA approval. However, the FAA said it would only allow Amazon to fly drones at 400 feet or below during the day, and the devices must remain in visual line-of-sight of the pilot. And now, it’s clear that the approval was useless for Amazon.
Amazon did not respond to comment at the time of the announcement.
The WSJ reported that Amazon has applied for another certificate for its updated drone. The company also wants the FAA to issue a commercial-drone exemption so it can rapidly test new drones and not have to apply for permission each time it uses a new design.
We’ll update this post after Misener speaks today. Here’s his prepared statement: