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FAA Approves Amazon Application for Air Drone Deliveries

by Dirk Llorens Aug. 19, 2021

The idea of a drone flying straight to your home to deliver something you ordered just minutes ago from Amazon sounds like something from science fiction. Actually, it’s close to becoming reality. Amazon’s drone delivery plans have actually taken huge steps forward, and with the FAA approval, the ball is back in Amazon’s court to get this delivery service up and running.

In this guide, we’ll speculate on what the future of drone delivery could look like, and exactly what that FAA approval means for the retail giants.


What FAA Approval Means


The FAA is a government agency that regulates the airspace across America and the surrounding area. No company can fly delivery drones or deliver packages in this method without their approval. Amazon’s ambitious plans to deliver packages using drones would get nowhere without the approval of this agency.

The approval allows Amazon to “safely and efficiently deliver packages to customers” and the certification is under Part 135 of the agency regulations. It’s about using drones beyond the visual line of sight. This means that because Amazon won’t be manually watching all of the drones, the FAA must be satisfied that the drones are safe to use.

So, when can we order from Amazon and expect a drone to drop our package within 30 minutes? Well, not quite yet. There are still some vital steps to go through.

FAA approval may be one of the crucial steps, but there are still some huge logistical challenges. Not for the first time, Amazon will be really making moves that nobody else has done on the same sort of scale. This means they are going to need to innovate in new ways.

David Carbon, VP of Prime Air, released a statement discussing the FAA support:

“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world. We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30 minute delivery.”


What Will Air Prime Look Like?


The drone delivery service is going to be called “Air Prime” and the idea is simple. Certain products will be available from distribution centers all over the country, and eventually the world.

Initially, the service is only going to be available for certain products, all of which will be 5lb and under in weight.

When you order, if you’re in one of the eligible locations you will see an Air Prime delivery option that you can choose and expect this ultra-fast delivery.

What’s the point? Well, this isn’t just about convenience. Of course, convenience is one of the key reasons why Amazon Prime does so well, and why the brand has grown to be the retail powerhouse it is today. The idea of being able to get products delivered in 30 minutes could also be amazing in any sort of emergency. You could theoretically order a car jump starter or a part you needed to repair something and have it delivered quicker than you could get to a store and buy it.

Similarly, certain medical products that are available on Amazon could be expedited to you, so if you need them quickly, you will be able to rely on Prime Air.


How Quickly Will We See Drone Deliveries?


The speed of the rollout is something that Amazon has been relatively quiet about. The brand has actually been testing forms of drone deliveries since 2013.

Amazon has a page dedicated to its drone technology where they explain they are “testing many different vehicle designs and delivery mechanisms to discover how best to deliver packages in a variety of operating environments.” They make no promises about exactly when the deliveries will be available. When it does happen, expect the focus to be on bigger cities. It makes sense to roll it out in an area where more people will be able to enjoy it, and where it is worth having a distribution center.

When the approval from the FAA came to fruition, Jeff Wilke, a representative of Amazon said that “within months” the technology could potentially be used.


What Do Air Drone Deliveries Mean For Sellers?


Until we know exactly what the service is going to look like, it’s impossible to say exactly what it will mean for sellers. However, it is likely that the FBA service whereby Amazon fulfills the orders on behalf of sellers will be utilized. You will ship your products to the Amazon warehouse, and their employees and drones will handle the delivery. Logistically, it is doubtful that the seller will really have to do much differently at all.

Another consideration for companies selling on Amazon is how drone deliveries might change buyer behaviour and selling patterns. For example, buyers may be more willing to buy items that they would currently go out to the store for. Something they decide that they need today doesn’t have to involve leaving the home. Even things like ingredients and equipment for cooking could thrive. People can decide on a whim that they want something, and we could be entering a new era of impulse buying. Being able to have something delivered to your home in 30 minutes or even less (some trial runs have taken just 13 minutes) will almost definitely impact how people spend their money on the site.




Amazon is not the only company to plan drone delivery, and the chances are, this will become the norm in the years to come. UPS and Alphabet-owned Wing have already been FAA approved for making air deliveries. The race to be the first company to deliver via drones is well and truly on. While it may have seemed abstract when Amazon started planning in 2013, it now seems that drone deliveries could be just around the corner.