Amazon proposes drones-only airspace to facilitate high-speed delivery

Amazon proposes drones-only airspace to facilitate high-speed delivery

What do you guys think of this? Drone only airspace from 200ft to 400ft. Doesn't this eat into our 400ft slice of the sky? Your gear must also be up to spec to participate in this airspace

Aircraft must have:

  • Sophisticated GPS tracking that allows them to pinpoint their location in real-time and in relation to all other drones around them.
  • A reliable internet connection onboard that allows them to maintain real-time GPS data and awareness of other drones and obstacles.
  • Online flight planning that allows them to predict and communicate their flight path.
  • Communications equipment that allow them to “talk” and collaborate with other drones in the zone to ensure they avoid each other.
  • Sensor-based sense-and-avoid equipment that allows the drones to bypass all other drones and obstacles such as birds, buildings or electric cables.

Views: 1112

Comment by technicus acityone on July 30, 2015 at 8:15am

Tumb up!

Comment by Gary McCray on July 30, 2015 at 9:50am

Although I understand and applaud the concept and realistically understand that commercial UAVs will need their own space, I seriously hope it isn't implemented at these altitudes.

Zero to 400 feet AGL is hard enough to deal with let alone having the top half of that effectively removed from non-commercial (and presumably very expensive) UAV use.

A lot of fixed wing AG applications would be effectively destroyed or priced out of the market among others and our regular hobby use would be considerably reduced as well.

I do think that there is going to need to be specialized commercial use only airspace, but I believe it should be assigned as specific mapped airspace, not given as a global coverage.

And if it is done globally, Amazons delivery drones don't need to take half of it.

If it has to be that way I am sure the top 50 feet of our airspace would be plenty, anything doing that is going to have precision altitude capability anyway.

Or maybe even give them the 50 feet above the 400 feet, just don't give them half of our already minimal airspace.

Just a thought.

Best regards,


Comment by MarioSpeedwagon on July 30, 2015 at 10:12am

^ What he said ^

Comment by earthpatrol on July 30, 2015 at 11:10am

Physics, physics, physics. So let's assume a loaded delivery "drone" of 10 pounds. Let's assume there is a band from 122 m/400ft down to 61m/200ft where drones can fly. Now let's look at falling object physics to understand the time and forces imparted by a failed 10 pound delivery drone. Let's assume an urban environment, since that pencils out better based on volume, so there will by a higher density of humans on the surface, walking, on bikes, in cars, buses, trains, etc... Given the proposed height of operation, a failed aircraft will arrive at the surface between 3.5 seconds and 5 seconds. That means, at best, if a person sees the aircraft fail, they will have 3.5 seconds to 5 seconds to react. More than likely they will have effectively zero time to react because they are not looking up constantly while navigating an urban environment. Now, back to the impact force of the 10 pound failed drone based on the proposed flight corridor. At impact the force from those altitudes will range from 42,700N(or 9,600 lbs) up to 85,400N(or 19,200 lbs).  The only thing that makes sense with Amazon's proposal is that they are trying to keep their stock price up by talking crazy.

Comment by Gary McCray on July 30, 2015 at 11:13am

Actually, based on the fact that almost certainly the requisites for flying in the "high speed" corridor are going to require advanced vehicle avoidance and precision flying and filed flight plan operations, why not give them 350 feet to 450 feet, giving up 50 feet of normal UAV airspace and 50 feet of the buffer zone between us and manned airplanes.

That way they could have the same kind of directional flight planning that is practiced now (North East assigned altitudes set at 375 feet and South West assigned altitudes set at 425 feet for instance).

I think we could afford to give them 50 feet and since they are guaranteed to be highly accurate I'd say the FAA might be willing to give up 50 feet of the buffer zone.

Just a thought / potentially worthwhile proposal.


Comment by John Moore on July 30, 2015 at 11:41am

@earthpatrol Not sure what your point is. Flying things are dangerous?

Comment by earthpatrol on July 30, 2015 at 11:56am

@John Moore the point is that these business models are ill conceived and really not practical. It's an exercise in video game mentality. Now add to all this hype weather conditions, especially in Seattle, and you quickly realize that building a reliable delivery system in the air over a populated urban setting is a long way off. Whose going to insure these business operations? Imagine a 6 pack of soda accidentally dropped from 400 ft. You don't want to be the recipient of that delivery.

Comment by Jared O. on July 30, 2015 at 12:38pm

I personally find the whole concept of Amazon delivery drones to be very offensive at any altitude. I don't want some automated drone flying or landing anywhere near me or my family. Flying these things over populated areas - presumably without line of sight or even a dedicated human operator is beyond dangerous and irresponsible.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on July 30, 2015 at 12:51pm

Will it be able to operate when a minimum wage youngster can in pouring rain and howling wind driving a van with 500kg of parcels on the back?

Do you need stuff so quick #firstworldproblem #stopcomingoverhereandshottingourwildlifedentists #foodandwaterishardformost

Comment by John Bond on July 30, 2015 at 1:47pm

Forgetting the silliness of drone delivery for a moment, it does bring up how archaic the FAA's airspace system is.  Carving things up with the precision of an axe was OK for the 20th century, but a scalpel is needed for sUAS.  A whole unmanned aviation industry could exist in what is mostly unused and mostly unusable airspace for manned craft.  A whole industry WILL eventually exist there, but the idea scares the hell out of many who can't imagine aviation being anything other than manned fixed-wing flights from airport to airport.  The FAA shares this fear so of course they haven't done anything.  Living in the 20th century is the only place they are comfortable, but eventually something kind of like this proposal needs to happen.


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