The long battle between the FAA and Amazon hit a detente today. While Amazon was hoping for a 333 Exemption, they were granted a more restrictive Experimental Use Certificate for their UAS, under 14 CFR 21.191. There are limits to the certificate: UAS must remain below 400′, within line of sight of the pilot and observer, and the pilot must have at least a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification. It also includes the monthly reporting requirements typical of all experimental certificates.
Amazon will not be delivering packages anytime soon. The Certificate is well-named: Amazon can experiment to develop the aircraft and program, but they cannot implement the program commercially under this authorization.
Other stories I and others have written regarding Amazon Prime Air:
Also today we learned that Google has scrapped their drone design because the wing placement made it too difficult to control. As you can see in the image above, Google’s UAS contains the package within the airframe and drops it with a cable, but the interesting rear-placed wings did not work out. Here is more info about the aborted design.