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FAA Grants Amazon Approval To Test-fly New Advanced Drones For Delivery

The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, has Thursday granted approval to online retail giant Amazon.com (AMZN) to test-fly their new advanced drones, under certain provision, for potential delivery. The speedy approval for the drone comes after the FAA was severely criticized for the six-month delay in approving Amazon's earlier prototype drone in March.

The six-month delay in approval saw to it that the initial test delivery drones becoming obsolete and irrelevant by that time.

Amazon then applied for another certificate for a newer advanced drone, and preferred to receive a commercial-drone exemption like the ones granted to nearly 50 operators in the U.S., which would give it more flexibility.

"We're pleased the FAA has granted our petition for this stage of R&D experimentation, and we look forward to working with the agency for permission to deliver Prime Air service to customers in the United States safely and soon," said Paul Misener, Amazon vice president for global public policy.

The approvals are exemptions to a general prohibition on commercial drones until the FAA develops comprehensive drone regulations. The FAA said Amazon was one of 30 exemptions the agency granted a day earlier for commercial drones, bringing the total to 128.

Some of the drones from other companies were approved for making movies, monitoring agriculture or to conduct aerial surveys, as in the case of AIG, for risk assessment, risk management, loss control, and surety performance for customers in the U.S.

Amazon's advanced drone has now been approved to fly no more than 400 feet above ground level at speeds of not more than 100 miles an hour over private property and within sight of the remote-control pilot or a designated observer. The flights are also supposed to remain at least 500 feet away from other people.

Amazon had started testing unmanned drones to deliver packages to customers as quick as 30 minutes at an indoor facility in 2013.

The company then requested permission from the FAA for broader testing of drones for the merchandise delivery service named Prime Air.

Amazon is not the lone candidate in the drone delivery service, as Google, Domino's Pizza and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba have also tested drone deliveries.

AMZN closed Thursday's regular trading session at $383.54, up $2.34 or 0.61% on a volume of 2.39 million shares.

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