Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Amazon is Paving the Way for Companies that Want to Use Drones for Commercial Deliveries

The head of Amazon's Prime Air program said at a drone convention in New Orleans, La., recently that a federated air traffic control system and a "high-speed transit zone" could allow for mass-scale drone deliveries.

Gur Kimchi, co-founder and vice president of Amazon Prime Air, gave a keynote presentation in early-May at Xponential 2016, the largest trade show for the unmanned systems and robotics industry. Kimchi presented a case for a “federated” air traffic control system that would allow drones to communicate with one another, air traffic control towers, and manned aircrafts.

“We need to be ready. This is not a technology problem, but an industry-getting-together problem. We have to do it now.”

Amazon is also proposing to the FAA and regulators a restricted airspace between 200 and 400 feet that would serve as a “high-speed transit zone” for commercial drones. While the FAA currently allows limited commercial operations through a Section 333 exemption, it has not yet released regulations to allow for drones to carry payloads.

Those in the drone industry and advocates of the technology say the influence of Amazon could ultimately open the door to mass scale drone deliveries. The New York Times reported that Amazon has significantly increased its pressure on regulators in Washington, doubling its expenditures on lobbying between 2014 and 2015 to $9.4 million. “Amazon is disrupting huge industries; retail was a start, then the enterprise market with its cloud platform and now transportation logistics,” said Colin Sebastian, a senior analyst at Robert W. Baird in the article. “This is Jeff Bezos’s playbook, and achieving it by influencing legislation would be consistent with that plan.”

Other companies have drone programs in the pipeline. Forbes reported that UPS is working with Zipline to establish a network of autonomous drones to deliver blood in Rwanda. Wired reported that DHL also has a drone prototype that can make deliveries faster than a car.

Kimchi said as the technology proliferates in the next year or two the airspace could soon become congested. He revealed at the conference that Amazon is floating its proposals to a number of aviation stakeholders such as the FAA, NASA, the Air Line Pilots Association, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and Helicopter Association International.

Kimchi said the United States needs to open the skies to commercial drone deliveries now lest it falls behind as a global leader. Because it has yet to obtain approval from the FAA, Amazon has been testing its drones in England and The Netherlands. “We need to be ready. This is not a technology problem, but an industry-getting-together problem. We have to do it now,” Kimchi said.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.