The Wall Street Journal reports (behind the pay wall) that Amazon is losing patience with the FAA, and has threatened to move more of its operations abroad if it doesn’t receive permission to test-fly in the U.S., soon.
“Without the ability to test outdoors in the United States soon, we will have no choice but to divert even more of our [drone] research and development resources abroad,” Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, said in a letter to the FAA Sunday reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Amazon petitioned the FAA in July to allow it to go forward with testing its drone delivery system, on privately owned land under highly controlled conditions. The FAA came back in October, asking Amazon why it didn’t seek an experimental aircraft certificate. Amazon’s sensibly responded that an experimental certificate wouldn’t give it the flexibility it needed.
Translation (we think): An experimental certificate would require Amazon to jump through too many hoops every time it makes design changes. And Amazon needs to have the option of making design changes on the fly.
But this is just mind-blowing:
The FAA also asked Amazon why its delivery drones are in the public interest[!] Mr. Misener responded that they would help deliver packages faster and make the overall transportation system safer and more efficient. “I fear the FAA may be questioning the fundamental benefits of keeping [unmanned-aircraft] technology innovation in the United States,” he wrote.
No kidding. The government might as well ask why the internet is in the public interest, or why roads and bridges are in the public interest.
This particular colloquy, we fear, suggests that the problem might be worse than we had ever imagined.