Axios reports that "the Federal Aviation Administration is clearing a regulatory path for drone operators to safely fly their aircraft over the horizon, without visual spotters … It's a big step forward in the effort to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the country's existing airspace.
"And it will open the door to widespread drone deliveries from companies like Zipline, Wing and FedEx."
Three drone operators have been cleared by the FAA: "Phoenix Air Unmanned, an infrastructure inspection company, got approval to use drones to patrol and inspect power lines and pipelines up close, under 400 feet of altitude and below typical aircraft flight paths … uAvionix received authorization to test software designed to detect and avoid other aircraft … (and) UPS Flight Forward, which operates the first FAA-approved drone fleet, is now authorized to fly its drones without safety observers along the route; instead, it may use ground-based surveillance to monitor the route for safety."
- KC's View:
Drone deliveries won't be for everyone, nor will they be appropriate everywhere. But the stage is being set, slowly but surely, for drones to be a significant percentage of the nation's delivery infrastructure.
As commonplace as trucks? Not anytime soon. But maybe someday, especially as technology improves and circumstances evolve to make them a preferred method of delivery.