FAA Greenlights Amazon Drone Delivery Beyond Visual Line Of Sight


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Amazon’s Prime Air drone program permission to conduct flights “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS), allowing the company to scale its drone delivery operation.

To obtain the BVLOS approval, Amazon said it conducted several flight demonstrations showing how its drone used onboard detect-and-avoid technology to navigate away from obstacles such as aircraft, helicopters and a hot air balloon. These flights were conducted under the supervision of FAA inspectors to validate the system’s functionality.

With FAA clearance secured, Amazon is set to begin drone deliveries later this year in College Station, Texas, where the company began its drone deliveries in 2022. According to Amazon, this regulatory approval paves the way for it to reach customers in densely populated areas, laying the foundation for scaling operations across the United States.

Amazon noted its goal is to deliver 500 million packages annually by drone by the end of the decade.

“It’s taken years of inventing, testing, and improving to develop these breakthrough technologies, and now, on the heels of regulatory approval and cutting-edge technology, we’re excited to launch this next chapter for Prime Air,” the company noted in a May 30 blog post.

Amelia Walsh
Amelia Walsh is a private pilot who enjoys flying her family’s Columbia 350. She is based in Colorado and loves all things outdoors including skiing, hiking, and camping.


  1. “Amazon is set to begin drone deliveries later this year in College Station, Texas…” There has to be an Aggie joke in there somewhere.

  2. Well … here comes the very next category of ambulance chasing ‘lawyers’ … “The drone fell on my head and I want a million dollars to feel better.”

  3. Who exactly needs something in 3 minutes (and is too lazy to go the store to buy it?) I imagine
    that these deliveries will be of items smaller than a couch and not requiring refrigeration or heating (think ice cream or pizza), and not in cities where persons are located in apartment buildings and offices (unless they expect the drones to enter via the windows—other than in modern buildings that have large glass sheathing). Basically, IMHO, this is idiocy. Reminds me of a cartoon movie I once saw where the population had migrated to some sort of low gravity huge satellite where they laid on couches and everything was automatically brought to them. They were totally dependent, amorphous blobs with not muscle definition at all because the only muscles they used were their mouths and vocal cords.

    • Not only are people turning into dependent amorphous blobs, but dependent amorphous blobs with no brains.

    • I can think of a lot of cases where super-fast delivery to my doorstep could be really useful…
      At home sick (or with a sick kid) and need that OTC medication? Elbows deep fixing your car and realize you need that one special part or tool, the store is 30 minutes away, the car isn’t driveable because it’s in pieces, and your spouse has the other one?

      Even now I only usually go to the store for groceries and home improvement supplies. I even ordered my car online. The time and money savings makes it worth it.

      • Hi Bob

        These are good use cases but really outliers – they plan on doing ½ billion deliveries in a year! It’s just plain consumerism gone bad – my concern will be noise – I may be proven wrong but what is to stop them from delivering at all hours of the day- we’ll see

        • It might be a far more efficient and quieter form of delivery than some person driving around in a sprinter van constantly starting and stopping, slamming the sliding door, blocking traffic, and even blaring music (which we deal with every day). I’m sure the drones will also be quieter than the brodozers, fart can Civics, and loud pipe motorcycles that like to roll through the neighborhood even after dark.

          • I doubt it. I think we all need to call and complain about noise a dozen times a day.

    • That movie was WALL-E, where people had so polluted Earth that nothing would grow, so they built a huge space/cruise-ship to take the remaining lard-ass humans to a new Earth (supposedly) leaving one waste-reclamation robot to clean up the planet for hundreds of years. A brilliant film and ‘way too accurate allegory.

    • “Who exactly needs something in 3 minutes (and is too lazy to go the store to buy it?)”

      Their target is 60 minutes or less, not three minutes.

      “I imagine that these deliveries will be of items smaller than a couch”

      Their most popular item currently is AA batteries. This could well change because they are moving operations from very small, bespoke fulfillment centers to existing Next Day centers with ten times the product selection.

      “and not in cities where persons are located in apartment buildings and offices”

      No problem; you have a designated landing zone (roof top, parking lot, lawn, etc.) where the customer leaves a landing target for the drone. The customer (or doorman?) may be responsible for being there to grab it, but real time delivery status would make that easy enough.

  4. It was bound to happen. Autonomous drones are proliferating. We haven’t had a well publicized accident yet. That’s what stopped the progress of self-driving cars and it could easily happen with autonomous drones. I imagine Amazon has a ton of insurance for this possibility.

  5. Aviation news sites have been reporting on Drone Delivery for two decades now. I’m surprised that the comments on this topic are not better informed about the intended future of Drone Delivery.

    Traditional ground vehicle package delivery is very expensive, complicated, slow and require a lot of employees. The intent of Delivery Drones is to “cut every expense” (employees, trucks, warehouse, fuel) AND speeding up the process is just an added benefit. It won’t take much to reduce the cost of the current way that Amazon, UPS, FedEx and the Post Office are doing it now. Once the Drone Delivery services get mature we will be modifying/building our homes and offices to accommodate these daily air drops. Next step will be people trading their rusty mailbox at the end of their drive in for a convenient ‘Drone Drop Pad’ at/on their home.

    Drone Delivery in it’s most infant stage is already cheaper then driving a motorcycle to the store and back for groceries.

  6. “Self driving cars” are proving to be “Great”. Self flying drones even better. sure.

  7. So on a side note, why is the “reply” button so small and the “report comment” button so big? I think I keep accidentally reporting posts when I mean to reply to them…

  8. Uh oh. Something new and electric powered. Gotta be stupid and bad.

    No one said it’ll be free of charge or free of accidents. Not all of Amazon’s new services work out, but they have the talent and backing money to take the risk.

  9. Talking about drone deliveries might generate headlines and help Amazon sign up more “prime” customers today, but I sure don’t see it ever being a significant part of their delivery system. Too much cost, too small a payload to ever make economic sense. And that’s before the first time a drone loses guidance and flies through someone’s living room window…

  10. The FAA is convinced it’s safe — what could go wrong?

    Personally, I’d like to know more about how they’ll avoid airport traffic patterns and sense-and-avoid non-radar-significant/non-transponder (no less non-ADS-B) aircraft like the hot air balloon they mentioned. Sounds too much like “PFM”.

    • There’s no way the same people certifying GA aircraft signed off on this unless their careers were threatened.

      Just Say’n.

  11. Direct result of minimum wage increases and unionization. Expect more automation to follow.

  12. The primary issue with any drone, particularly beyond line of sight, is can that machine be 100% successful in autonomous avoidance of aircraft (the kind with real live people in them) that are flying legally without an electrical system or transponder? If they can’t guarantee that they will miss every J-3 Cub or Part 103 Ultralight, then they should not be approved to operate in that airspace. The altitude argument doesn’t fly in my opinion.

    • Since piloted GA aircraft cannot meet the 100% bar you set, when shall we ground them? Is next week too soon? Be careful of putting every thought in your head out there lest these thoughts be applied to you. It’s in league with the “who needs…?” idiocy. If need is the bar to overcome justifying GA flight, then there is a lot of aluminum out there that can be put to more productive, dare I say “needful”, use.

      • I hate the “who needs” nonsense. I think it should be listed as a fallacy.
        I’m pretty sure we can “who needs” anything made of aluminum btw. That’s why is such a stupid argument.

    • Are their existing trucks – WITH human guidance – 100% capable of avoiding other traffic, including NORDO pedestrians? Who has a better safety record, the trucks or the drones?

  13. Ah, the generation with everything. Instant gratification will be their epitaph. Whether it’s a quick hop on Joby to the airport for a flight on Boom and catch a Swift show, or get that
    root beer float on a hot afternoon from the local dispensary. It makes total sense!