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Even faster delivery? Amazon’s Prime Air drone fleet gets the green light

Amazon is always making headlines for its innovative developments. Over the last few years, this e-commerce giant has rolled out same-day delivery in large metro markets, one-click purchases, Amazon Alexa, and a ton of other technologically-advanced innovations that make life easier for shoppers.

Constant focus on ease-of-use for customers made Amazon a household name years ago, and its popularity has continued to grow. Ask around among your friends and it’s almost guaranteed that many are Prime customers who rely on Amazon for regular purchases — especially right now, in the midst of a pandemic. Tap or click here to find out how to safely handle Amazon deliveries.

And that online retailer stronghold may further explode now that Amazon has finally received Federal Aviation Administration approval to expand its drone delivery fleet operations. While this just means a testing phase for now, if it passes muster, it could mean huge changes and supercharged deliveries for you.

What Amazon’s FAA approval could mean for delivery

Amazon has been toying with the idea of drone deliveries since 2013 in the hopes that using them would expedite shipping while safely and efficiently delivering packages to customers. The program took a few years to get off the ground, though, and the retailer didn’t submit a request for FAA approval until 2019.

Related: Amazon’s delivery robots are hitting the road

Following its 2019 petition, Amazon announced that drone delivery would start taking place within months, but it took over a year to receive FAA certification to move testing forward. Now that it’s officially certified by the FAA, though, Amazon can finally use its fleet of Prime Air delivery drones to test out whether it’s feasible to complete customer deliveries via drone.

According to the FAA petition, these drone-based deliveries are slated to occur in areas with low population density. They will also be limited to packages that weigh 5 pounds or less — which severely limits what can and cannot be delivered during the testing phases.

If the drone program makes it past this next round of testing, the idea is that Amazon will be able to deliver packages under a certain size and weight in about 30 minutes. That means a faster turnaround from order to delivery for you — provided your package can be delivered by a drone, anyway.

“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world,” David Carbon, vice president of Prime Air, said.

‘We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30-minute delivery.”

RELATED: 24 things from Amazon you need this far into the pandemic

The certification Amazon received from the FAA is called a Part 135 air carrier certificate, and it must be held before a company can begin drone deliveries. Amazon is the third company to be approved for this type of certification — both UPS and Google’s Alphabet-owned Wing received certification prior to Amazon.

This approval could mean big things for the online retailer, which has seen a huge increase in online orders since the start of the pandemic. Using drones for smaller deliveries could also help keep drivers safe during the pandemic.

However, the time it will take to get from the drone testing phase to actual widespread implementation is unknown. Neither the technology nor the FAA is ready for widespread drone use yet, as the FAA is still developing regulations needed.

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