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With FAA Slow With Drone Approval, Amazon Looks Elsewhere

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In the year following Amazon unveiling its delivery drone prototypes during a 60 Minutes interview with Jeff Bezos, the company has been vocal its frustration with the Federal Aviation Association's slow pace in approving commercial drones.

Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global public policy, wrote a letter to the FAA this weekend, stating that unless the FAA gives them permission to test fly its drones -- intended to deliver customers' packages in 30 minutes or less for its upcoming Amazon Prime Air service -- in the U.S, the ecommerce giant will continue to take its R&D elsewhere.

Related: Has TGI Friday's Ruined Drones for Restaurants Everywhere?

"I fear the FAA may be questioning the fundamental benefits of keeping [drone] technology innovation in the United States," said Misener in the letter, according to the Wall Street Journal. Though the agency was expected to roll out new regulations 2015, that deadline is still largely up in the air. 

Last December, the FAA established six commercial drone test sites in places like the University of Alaska and the North Dakota Department of Commerce but utilizing these sites was not feasible for Amazon.

Related: Inside the Semi-Secret Meeting That's Reshaping America's Drone Industry

When Misener wrote to the FAA for the first time in July, he asked the agency to release Amazon from the rules established by the FAA's last round of regulations, the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that would prevent the company from testing the drones outdoors in Seattle, near the company's headquarters.

The FAA did not acquiesce to Amazon's request, and recently, the company has taken to testing drones in the U.K. -- where the regulations are looser - and posting Amazon Prime Air jobs in Israel, reports The Journal. Google has also worked around the FAA restrictions by testing in Queensland, Australia.

Related: The Drone Industry Hates the Word 'Drone.' So, What's a Better Option?

Edition: May 2017

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