Want an Amazon Prime Air Package in Kentucky? It'll Take A While.
If the Monday morning reactions are right, Louisville and the surrounding area might be a good testing ground for Amazon Prime Air,the same-day delivery service the online retailer previewed Sunday.There are a handful of Amazon warehouses nearby, including Shepherdsville and Jeffersonville. And the range of the drones will be limited, likely to 10 miles at first. And as Quartz outlines, delivery drones may be difficult to use in dense urban areas. Louisville could provide ample space for deliveries.But even if drones could easily fly short distances to suburban homes, it's not clear they will be allowed to. The FAA is going to revise (read: create) its policies for commercial drones in 2015. Here's what would have to change:Federal Approval for Commercial DronesFederal airspace exists somewhere above most of America. The Supreme Court has ruled that property rights don't extend infinitely into the sky, but there's no set line for where your property ends and federal airspace begins.If the drones are to fly in federal airspace, the FAA will have to regulate how Amazon is allowed to do so. This could be done. Commercial drone delivery already exists in Australia.Where Do They Land?The video previewing Prime Air shows a drone dropping off a package on a happy shopper's patio. But not so fast."You can't just land a helicopter anyplace," says Allen Gailor, a local aviation attorney. "You think you can legally land in a backyard?"Gailor says no matter what the size—"one inch or two miles"—a commercial aircraft can't touch down in someone's yard, and that's another federal regulation that will have to change.Can My Neighbor Shoot It Down?Below much of the federal airspace (though not technically adjacent) is private property. As the Supreme Court has ruled, property owners control the space above their land to the degree they may reasonable use it. And once it's cleared up where these drones can land, it could be difficult to determine how they land.Unless the drones could drop straight down from federal airspace to your house, they will likely have to cross someone else's property. Without a revision to regulations, that could qualify as trespassing or nuisance."People sue air boards all the time," notes Gailor. Noise and pollution suits are common, and we've seen plenty of debate over whether the FAA can and should trim trees around Bowman Field.But even if the drones aren't directly trespassing, bothered neighbors who say aerial package delivery interferes with the enjoyment of their property could bring a nuisance case."If these flights are so low, they're irritating, it could be a nuisance, even if it's not a trespass. A nuisance doesn't involve a physical invasion of a property," says Lars Smith at the University of Louisville.Randal Strobo, an Attorney with W. H. Graddy & Associates says this: