Amazon asks FAA for permission to fly drones

By MAE ANDERSON, Associated Press Published: July 12, 2014
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— Amazon is asking the Federal Aviation Administration permission to use drones as part of its plan to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

The news sent shares of the nation’s largest e-commerce company up nearly 6 percent on Friday.

The online retailer created a media frenzy in December when it outlined a plan on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to deliver packages with self-guided aircraft that seemed straight out of science fiction.

In a letter to the FAA dated Wednesday, Amazon said it is developing aerial vehicles as part of Amazon Prime Air. The aircraft can travel over 50 miles per hour and carry loads of up to 5 pounds. About 86 percent of Amazon’s deliveries are 5 pounds or less, the company said.

“We believe customers will love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so,” Amazon said in the letter.

The FAA allows hobbyists and model aircraft makers to fly drones, but commercial use is mostly banned. Amazon is asking for an exemption so it can test its drones in the U.S. The Seattle company says its drone testing will only take place over Amazon’s private property, away from airports or areas with aviation activity —and not in densely populated areas or near military bases.