Amazon to test drone deliveries abroad if FAA denies testing in US

Amazon has warned the Federal Aviation Administration that if it did not allow the company to test deliveries using unmanned aircraft, referred to as drones, then Amazon would carry out the testing abroad.

According to a the company's letter to the FAA on 7 December, urging the agency to grant the company permission to test its delivery drones outside of its laboratories in Seattle, Washington, it would be flying its drones over private property within a rural area for its tests, which will be done under the supervision of trained pilots.

The online retailer had unveiled plans to put drones to use drones for deliveries last year, which, according to the company would allow it to send light packages to its customers in times as fast as 30 minutes or less. The service had been named Amazon Prime Air.

Amazon initially requested for permission from the FAA to test its drones outdoors back in July, based on a request for comments document sent out by the agency regarding potential exemptions on its banning of the operations of commercial drones.

The letter not only reiterates the company's request for approval to test its delivery drones, but also expresses Amazon's concern that the policies of the agency could prove to be impediments to innovations in technology within the US.

In the absence of timely approval by the FAA to conduct outdoor testing, we have begun utilising outdoor testing facilities outside the United States,'' Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global policy wrote in the letter, Bloomberg reported.

Misener said, ''It is our continued desire to also pursue fast-paced innovation in the United States, which would include the creation of high-quality jobs and significant investment in the local community.''

The FAA granted permission in September to seven Hollywood production companies to use drones for filming through the same programme under which Amazon was requesting a waiver.

Those were the only commercial drone users permitted in the continental US, while two oil companies had also earlier been granted permits to use drones in Arctic regions of Alaska.

According to the FAA it was reviewing Amazon's letter.

''The agency has designated an inspector to work closely with representatives from Amazon on its request for an experimental certificate to conduct research and development of unmanned aircraft,'' the agency said in an e-mail.

''The FAA is currently waiting for additional information from the company to complete the application. Since 2005, the FAA has issued over 200 initial and recurrent experimental research and development certificates to unmanned aircraft operations.''