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February 16, 2015updated 19 Aug 2016 12:40pm

Amazon drone delivery derailed as draft rules released

The Federal Aviation Authority has announced rules governing commercial drone use that may stymie Amazon's drone plans.

By Alexander Sword

Amazon suffered a heavy blow when the US’s Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) released its draft rules governing use of drones in US airspace.

The rules as they stand would prohibit Amazon’s planned mobile delivery service, as they require the small unmanned aircraft to be within sight of the operator.

"The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations," the FAA said in a statement. "The rule would allow, but not require, an operator to work with a visual observer who would maintain constant visual contact with the aircraft. The operator would still need to be able to see the UAS with unaided vision (except for glasses)."

However, these rules are not set in stone. The FAA has requested comment from the public on the rules as they stand.

"We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry."

The commercial use of the unmanned aircraft is expected to take off in the next few years, with Chinese internet retailer Alibaba trialling drone deliveries earlier this month and Facebook investing in the technology with hopes that they might be used to provide wi-fi. However, in the minds of many the word "drone" will recall their controversial use in recent conflicts.

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