Amazon Gets FAA Approval to Test Delivery Drones, But There's a Catch

Amazon moves closer to its dream of drone delivery, but there's a catch.

March 20, 2015, 11:14 AM

— -- Amazon's dream of drone delivery has been cleared for testing by the Federal Aviation Administration, however the small victory for the retailer comes with plenty of restrictions.

The FAA issued an experimental airworthiness certificate to Amazon on Thursday that will allow the company to begin testing its fleet of delivery drones outdoors. Amazon had previously been testing them inside its Washington facility.

Under the new ruling, Amazon will be able to fly its drones outside for the purpose of "research and development and crew training."

The certificate comes with several strings attached that limit Amazon's full-fledged ambitions.

During tests, the FAA will require the drones to remain within sight of the pilot -- who must also have a minimum of a private pilot's certificate, the federal agency said.

The drones will only be allowed to fly during the daytime and only in clear weather conditions. They'll also have to stay at 400-feet or below, according to the FAA.

Amazon will also be held to strict reporting requirements and must send monthly reports to the FAA on the number of flights conducted, how long pilots flew and any malfunctions or deviations from air traffic controllers' instructions.

Last month, the FAA released a set of proposed rules for drones that seemed to shoot down Amazon's aerial ambitions. While the new license is a small victory, Amazon still has a long way to go until it can realize its dream of a drone network that delivers packages in 30 minutes or less.

Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon, said in a statement to ABC News last month that the company was "committed to realizing our vision for Prime Air and are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need."