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FAA Bans Delivering Packages With Drones 199

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-it-would-have-been-hilarious dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from Ars Technica: The Federal Aviation Administration has said that online shopping powerhouse Amazon may not employ drones to deliver packages, at least not anytime soon. The revelation was buried in an FAA document (PDF) unveiled Monday seeking public comment on its policy on drones, or what the agency calls "model aircraft." The FAA has maintained since at least 2007 that the commercial operation of drones is illegal. ... In Monday's announcement, published in the Federal Register, the FAA named Amazon's December proposal as an example of what is barred under regulations that allow the use of drones for hobby and recreational purposes. The agency did not mention Amazon Prime Air by name, but it didn't have to. Under a graphic that says what is barred, the FAA mentioned the "Delivering of packages to people for a fee." A footnote added, "If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose."
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FAA Bans Delivering Packages With Drones

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  • by cloud.pt (3412475) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @02:57PM (#47309083)

    Low-level flight should be regulated on a municipal level, not through national airspace policies. Such type of drones doesn't need (despite having the ability) to fly higher than you average apartment block. As such, commercial, recreational or even military use of such gear should have never fallen under the FAA's jurisdiction, as the FAA never really had control over what's on a shallow level of the ground (excluding airports or helipads, but even there it's the facility that molds to the FAA regulation and not FAA regulation restricting it to total impossibility).

    It's much like saying the FAA should regulate paper-plane throwing or bungee-jumping: "Hey, you can't jump from that bridge wearing an Amazon t-shirt silly. You're going to jail"

  • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:00PM (#47309115)
    Considering the poor safety history drones have had so far and the point that this is the FAA's job, I am not sure I would call it overreach at this stage.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:10PM (#47309205) Homepage Journal

    Considering these are basically miniature electric helicopters, I'm not sure a crash is really that big a deal;

    Well, the only part of that which seems reassuring to me is miniature, and that claim doesn't hold up. A drone which can carry (for example) more than about a can of soda is large enough to cause serious injury if it falls out of the sky and lands on you, or its software gets confused and it engages in controlled flight into your face. And then there's the fire risk if something bad should happen to a battery; sure, you could use LifePo or another safer-chemistry battery, but that doesn't rule out fires. If the drone should come down and set something inconvenient alight, assigning blame will be the least consideration.

  • On the contrary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @03:25PM (#47309391) Journal

    ...this just means it's time for Amazon to laywer-up. Or lobbiest-up. Or both.

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @04:54PM (#47310229)

    Presumeably the FAA doesn't think that hobbyists are much more responsible flyers than corporations doing business, so there must be another reason for this ban, yes? What could it be?

    a) Corporate business use would amount to greatly increased drone flights, and the FAA just doesn't think its regulatory ability, or the safety aspects of the technology, is ready for prime time wide scale use yet? For example, the interaction of drones and conventional aviation would have to be worked out in great detail for safety, and more technology and rules would be needed.

    b) Nuisance aspect of the technology? Noise? If widely deployed?

    c) The FAA just likes banning stuff in general, and new stuff in particular?

    d) Some vested competing interests (say, trucking industry? teamsters?,...?) are lobbying / bribing FAA senior administrators and/or politicians who have a say?

  • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @07:24PM (#47311217) Homepage

    First off, that's the declaration of independence... second, yes, Life is part of that.

    Third - and sadly, most forgotten - the Constitution (nor the Declaration of Independence, nor any other documents our government is founded on) does not delineate what our rights are. It states where those "unalienable rights" may be abrogated for the formation of a "more perfect union".

    In other words, it is not the Constitution or the government that it founds that gives us the right to free speech, or freedom of religion, or life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or any of those. Our freedom is part and parcel of the human condition. The philosophy espoused by the US Constitution is that we voluntarily sacrifice some of these rights - giving our government the power to suspend some of those natural rights - in order to maintain order.

    Why is this important? What is the difference between this philosophy and one where our rights are granted to us by the government? Because the latter puts the power squarely in the hands of the government and it is by their goodwill alone we are allowed our freedoms; the former insists that power remains with the people and it is only by their consent we are governed. It may only be a philisophical distinction but it is an important one and should not be glossed over.

    So whenever somebody says "the Constitution does not give us that right", please remind them that is neither in its purpose nor its purview. Just because it is not mentioned does not mean we do not have that freedom; in fact the Tenth Amendment even goes so far as to remind us of this fact.

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