Amazon's delivery drones shot down by new FAA rules

No human operator, no flight, says US aviation regulator

The United States Federal Aviation Administration has released a new set of rules covering the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles, and appears to have shot down's delivery-by-drone dream.

The draft regulations (PDF) say drone operations must be “Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only” and that “unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer.”

A second guideline suggests that “At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.”

There's also a requirement that “No person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time”. All flights must also take place during daylight hours.

And just to rub salt into the wound, the FAA's Administrator Michael Huerta has said this set of rules didn't consider cargo-carrying drones at all.

Amazon's told Reuters it will continue with its plans and, if they come to fruition, take the service to jurisdictions that permit delivery-by-drone.

The public now has 60 days in which to comment on the regulations. The Reg imagines Amazon won't be shy of making its feelings known, not least because the FAA says one of its goals is “maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations.” ®

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