3 Problems with Amazon’s Drone Airspace Plan


By Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq.

Amazon has a great plan on how to safely integrate delivery drones into the air. But as a drone attorney and flight instructor, I see that this plan has some regulatory hurdles to overcome.

Here are three major problems I see with Amazon’s drone airspace plan.

Airspace Problems in the FAA’s Proposed Regulations
The altitudes are logically broken down into 200ft (max height under a blanket COA), 400ft (max height under a “333 exemption”), and 500ft (generally, the floor of navigable airspace as defined in 14 C.F.R. 91.119(c)).

The 400-500 feet buffer zone provides a nice cushion in case there is a simultaneous altimeter error of a manned aircraft, a GPS error on a drone, or just a private pilot fiddling with or trying to find something in the cockpit.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) greatly detailing drone operations below 500 feet, but the NPRM and Amazon’s plans don’t exactly line up. The FAA will have to amend its proposed rules to match up with Amazon’s.

For example, the FAA’s proposed rules allow for drone flights up to 500 feet. The FAA would have to change the proposed rules down to 400 feet. Furthermore, the FAA’s proposed rules allow many small drones to fly in the 200-400 feet area, while Amazon’s plan would limit it to “well equipped vehicles as determined by the relevant performance standards and rules.”

Read more here: http://www.roboticstrends.com/article/3_problems_with_amazons_drone_airspace_plan

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  • Here is a previous, related post on DIY Drones.

  • Drones and aircraft are absolutly different things. So need avoid create mixed sites for it operations. But drones need much more space because of the specific technology and mass application. So era of the undivided domination of a large aircraft has ends. And ands dramatically. =)

  • Godalmighty how much did they pay you for that awful clickbait Brendan???  Amazon's plan will have to compete with the same legal hurdle that the FAA will have to compete with: a Supreme Court ruling that insinuates that the property owner owns his airspace up to at least 365ft.  See United States v. Causby for crying out loud.

  • as I understand it the FAA has currently stated that drone activity can take place below 400 feet and manned aircraft are generally supposed to fly above 500 feet at least over structures and people.

    This provides a 100 foot "buffer" zone.

    Also as I understand it Amazons proposal is to basically remove the 200 feet of space from 200 feet AGL to 400 feet AGL from all purpose drone use and assign it to "specialized drone use".

    Basically meaning expensive and far more regulated drones only from 200 feet to 400 feet.

    That is the problem, it will basically lock out the vast majority of public drone use from half of the available altitude and onerously restrict them to only the first 2oo feet.

    This will seriously retard drone use in the US in order to accomodate a few very deep pocket enterprises.

    Simply the cost of implementation will far exceed the benefit to the public as a whole.

  • The real issues on domestic delivery will not come from the FAA but the DOT & each states DOT & PUC. This is not a simple task getting the licensing and approvals for this. Yes it will be every state.
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