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"This letter is to inform you that we have granted your request for exemption," John Duncan, FAA director of flight standards service said in the document posted on the FAA’s website. "The exemption would allow the petitioner to operate an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to conduct outdoor research and development testing."
Previously, Amazon’s request to fly spent six months in administrative limbo, forcing the company to take it’s testing overseas. By the time the FAA allowed the UAV noted in its first application to be flown in the US, the vehicle was already obsolete. Amazon’s new UAVs can fly at altitudes of up to 400 ft. and must not exceed 100 mph while remaining within a pilot’s line of sight.
“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,” Paul Misener, Vice President, Global Public Policy, told Engadget.
FAA grants approval for UAV flight school
Auburn University has received a Section 333 exemption for purposes of “courses to instruct students in the operation of UAS.” As a result, Auburn will open the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Flight School, which will operate as part of the Auburn University Aviation Center.
“This is an honor for Auburn University,” said Auburn University Aviation Center director Bill Hutto, “We will conduct commercial flight training for operators of unmanned aircraft systems outdoors and untethered. We will have the ability to offer training courses at different locations here and around the state for Auburn students, faculty, members of other public agencies and the general public.”
Auburn will require operators to pass both a written exam and a flight test, which ensures that the users have a good understanding of how to safely and properly operate a UAV.
UAV helps fight fires
In other related news, another item I saw in the ever-informative AUVSI newsletter is how one drone enthusiast in South Wales used his hobby to help fire fights battle a blaze.
Andrew Thyer, 35, was taking photos of Morris Castle with his DJI Phantom when he spotted a fire on a nearby mountain. He then contact emergency services to see if he could help, and they asked if he could use his UAV to captures images of the flames, so they could see which way they were spreading.