While both Amazon and Google have announced their interest in offering drone delivery services in the forseeable future, making it possible for same-day delivery, a recent indication of some new FAA rules in the works makes it highly unlikely that anyone will be seeing drone deliveries in New York City any time soon.
It appears that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering a set of regulations that will place major restrictions on the commercial use of flying drones in NYC. If passed, these restrictions will make it impossible for companies like Amazon and Google, as well as others, to deliver packages by means of drones, especially in urban locations such as the NY metro area.
The proposed new FAA regulations will likely limit the maximum altitude that commercial drones can fly to 400 feet and would also require drone operators to maintain line-of-sight contact with the drones. Both of these regulations, if passed, would make it impossible for drones to be used in the metropolitan New York area for commercial purposes. Operators of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would also have to be licensed pilots and drone flights would only be allowed during daylight hours.
The FAA is expected to release a draft of its new rules regarding commercial drone use by the end of the year, with people like NY senator Charles Schumer urging that the regulations be put into effect as soon as possible, citing concerns over safety and privacy.
This past summer, the New York Post reported that Senator Schumer was calling for the FAA to do more to crack down on the use of drones. In the article, he called New York City the “Wild West of drones”, explaining that there are a lot of unregulated drones flying through the skies overhead and without regulation, their use threatens the safety and privacy of New Yorkers. In July, a drone nearly collided with a police helicopter near the George Washington Bridge. In November, a drone reportedly came within 5 – 10 feet of an airplane coming in for a landing at JFK airport. These are just a couple of the near misses that could have ended in catastrophe.
Amazon was hoping to start its drone delivery service sometime next year, with the hopes of being able to offer deliveries in thirty minutes or less. Google would have likely not been far behind. The proposed regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration would thwart these plans. This will mean that companies looking to offer rush or same-day delivery services may have to rethink their strategies. One possibility for local companies in New York still interested in offering rush delivery is to use reputable courier services. While this plan may not help retail giants like Amazon or Google, it still may provide a means for retailers who maintain inventory within the metropolitan New York area to have their products delivered quickly and efficiently.