Delivery drones: will Amazon Air see the national airspace?

Citation metadata

Date: Spring 2016
Publisher: Rutgers University School of Law - Newark
Document Type: Article
Length: 11,168 words
Lexile Measure: 1830L

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :
I. DRONE USE A. Evolution of the Industry B. Amazon Air II. CURRENT FEDERAL CIVIL DRONE REGULATION A. The Act B. The Plan C. The Roadmap D. Rulemaking E. Special Rules F. Consequences of Present Regulation III. STATE LEGISLATION IV. PRIVACY CONCERNS V. SAFETY CONCERNS VI. HOW AMAZON COULD REACH THE NAS VII. CONCLUSION

This Note will discuss the impossibility of Amazon Air's goal: to bring delivery drones to the national airspace and consumers' doorsteps in the next five years. (1) Specifically this Note will analyze the challenges facing Amazon Air. There are four main obstacles standing in Amazon's way: 1) prohibitive federal regulations, 2) underdeveloped state regulation, 3) growing privacy concerns, and 4) legitimate safety concerns. This Note will analyze the legal and practical difficulties surrounding the integration of delivery drones into the national airspace to determine potential responses by Amazon Air.

Part I will survey drone use and detail Amazon Air's specific goal--to routinely access the National Airspace System ("NAS"). Part II will discuss federal regulation of drones and its impact on Amazon Air's timeline and objectives. Part III will focus on state regulation to evaluate what current legislation exists and how it will affect commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UASs"). Part IV will briefly outline privacy concerns and propose actions for both regulatory agencies and also Amazon Air. Part V will convey safety concerns and the solutions available to protect the public. Finally, Part VI will conclude the possibility of Amazon Air's plan and make recommendations to improve its chances of reaching the NAS.

I. DRONE USE

A. Evolution of the Industry

Drone use has transformed from a primitive military weapons delivery system to a versatile tool utilized by the public, private, and commercial realms. Indeed, while UAS technology was once limited to the battlefield, current data indicates that over 300 drones have been granted permission to operate in the NAS. (2) Moreover, this number does not include the drones that have found their way into backyards, living rooms, and even the local TGI Fridays. (3)

In light of this "boom," the burgeoning drone industry has become very profitable. One aerospace consulting firm estimates that "the commercial drone industry is currently worth $14 billion per year," and these numbers are anticipated to grow significantly. (4) In fact, by 2020, the FAA projects that drone use in the U.S. will increase to 30,000 drones in the NAS. (5) This year, 2020, is the same year that the FAA anticipates UASs will have the initial capability to routinely access the NAS. (6) This prospective success has created the hope that the unmanned aircraft industry will be both monetarily lucrative, as well as a source of new jobs. In that regard, it has been estimated that the UAS industry will grow to "a $90 billion industry that creates thousands of jobs in the next decade." (7) This is a significant change from early drone history, which was dominated by military use and model airplane hobbyists. (8) This increase in popularity is...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A455286510