By definition, a model aircraft must be flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft. P.L. 112-95, section 336(c)(2).1 Based on the plain language of the statute, the FAA interprets this requirement to mean that: (1) the aircraft must be visible at all times to the operator; (2) that the operator must use his or her own natural vision (which includes vision corrected by standard eyeglasses or contact lenses) to observe the aircraft; and (3) people other than the operator may not be used in lieu of the operator for maintaining visual line of sight. Under the criteria above, visual line of sight would mean that the operator has an unobstructed view of the model aircraft. To ensure that the operator has the best view of the aircraft, the statutory requirement would preclude the use of vision-enhancing devices, such as binoculars, night vision goggles, powered vision magnifying devices, and goggles designed to provide a “first-person view” from the model.
But Amazon and any other entity also have to consider a rule that has been in place since 2012 that disallows UAV’s for commercial purposes. So, this is a double whammy for anyone who wants to make money or fly anything, anywhere unless they can see the vehicle at all times without any equipment other than eyesight.
In addition to these restrictions there is also the physics of flying drones. Most hobby craft are quadcopters. Amazon uses octocopters, (8 rotors) for their Prime Air delivery craft. The drones are supposed to be able to carry 5 pounds plus the weight of the craft and travel 10 miles. It seems reasonable to suspect that the battery will have to be extremely efficient and light. These are currently mutually exclusive properties at the present time.
And then there are the liability issues. Even if the FAA grants special status for commercial drones, there will be concerns about drones hitting other airborne equipment, landing on people, being the sport of gun slingers, and many other possible problems. “Due to weather concerns which we have much of the time, your package will be sent by UPS or FedEx”! Fortunately, there will be a comment period and Amazon has no plans for immediate air delivery. I think that the time frame is 3 to 5 years. The trend? Amazon has time and lots of money. Need I say more?