FAA grounds drone beer deliveries

 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is clipping the wings of a company that attempted to gain a buzz by releasing a YouTube video promoting beer deliveries by drones. 

The company, Minneapolis-based Lakemaid Beer, released a video of a 12-pack of its product being delivered across a frozen lake to a group of ice fishermen by a drone.

The video followed a high-profile interview by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos that teased the possibility of using drones to provide faster deliveries of its products. 

The FAA was not impressed with Lakemaid Beer’s video, however.

The agency sent a letter to the company telling the beer-makers to knock it off with the drones.

“The FAA's prime directive is safety,” an FAA spokesperson told The Hill. “While we are evaluating many potential uses of UAS as we move toward their safe integration into the nation's airspace, commercial operation of such aircraft is not yet allowed. When we find out about an apparent commercial UAS operation, we have several different enforcement tools available, including a warning phone call, a warning letter and an order to cease operations.”

A petition has been launched on the White House website calling for the FAA to reverse course and allow the beer drone deliveries. The petition has 1,444 signatures so far.

Congress is requiring the FAA to issue a ruling on the impact of increasing the use of non-military drones on commercial airplanes by 2015.

The agency is preparing to conduct tests of the increased drone use at six sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia that were selected in December.

Critics have raised concerns about the possibility of privacy violations by police departments who have clamored for increased drone use, but the agency has said that it is trying to find an appropriate balance between increased drone use and privacy concerns.

The FAA released a roadmap for its drone consideration late last year.