Menu
Amazon blasts FAA on drone approvals, regulations

Amazon blasts FAA on drone approvals, regulations

Amazon's drone was already obsolete when it got FAA approval

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is taking too long to approve drone tests and isn't looking far enough into the future as it prepares rules for commercial drone flight, an Amazon executive told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Late last week, Amazon was issued permission by the FAA to fly an experimental drone as part of its tests for a planned automatic delivery service but it came too late, said Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon.

"The UAS [unmanned aircraft system] approved last week by the FAA has already become obsolete," he said.

As a result, Amazon has filed on Friday for permission to fly a more advanced drone -- one that is already being flown in several countries including the U.K., said Misener, who was speaking at a hearing of the Senate Committee on commerce, science and transportation.

Outside of the U.S., no country had taken longer than two months to approve any Amazon drone tests, said Misener, whereas the recent FAA approval took about six months to approve.

"We're allowed to innovate in other countries in ways that we cannot in the U.S.," he said.

The FAA is moving to make such approvals faster, said Margaret Gilligan, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety. Indeed, earlier in the day, the administration started issuing blanket airspace approvals for flights under certain conditions.

Gilligan said the FAA was moving more cautiously than regulators in other countries because the skies of America are busier. Partly as a result of fewer regulations on flight, private aviation is a much more active field here, and that means greater risks when drones enter the airspace.

The FAA recently published proposed rules that would remove many of the restrictions surrounding commercial drone flight, but they require trained operators fly under certain conditions, always within line of sight and never over people.

The rules, which are not expected to be enacted until 2016 or 2017, would allow for things like real estate photography of houses and inspections of masts and antennas, but they don't allow for the type of automated flight in use if Amazon Prime Air -- as the company is calling its planned service -- ever gets off the ground.

"It needs to go further to beyond line of sight and to highly-automated operations," said Misener.

He came back to this topic several times, telling lawmakers that the administration needs to be much more forward looking.

The hearing also touched on the issue of privacy.

"As the number of flights increase and imaging technology improves, either inadvertently or on purpose UAS will be used to violate privacy," said John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Intuition.

But, he said new laws are not the answer.

The privacy implications from government use of drones can already be handled within the boundaries of the fourth amendment while ample trespass laws exist to protect individuals from privately-operated drones, he said. He cited several recent cases where law enforcement agencies had been slapped down for questionable uses of technology.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags amazonpopular scienceroboticsregulationU.S. Federal Aviation Administrationlegislationgovernment

Featured

Slideshows

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017

Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017

​The New Year brings the usual new round of humdrum technology predictions, glaringly general, unashamedly safe and perpetually predictable. But while the industry no longer sees value in “cloud is now the norm” type projections, value can be found in following developments of the year previous, analysing behaviours and patterns to formulate a plan for the 12 months ahead. Consequently, here’s the top Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017...

Top 15 Kiwi tech storylines to follow in 2017
Show Comments