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Pilot says safety of drone delivery is up in the air following Amazon's announcement

7:44 PM, Dec 2, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- On Cyber Monday, Amazon was expected to sell 300 items a second this holiday shopping season. If approved customers could one day expect to receive their packages in 30 minutes or less thanks to drones.

Marielle Machacek is studying Psychology at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg campus. The graduate student says she likes the idea.

"That's crazy. That's insane. I would do that," she says.

Several people around the campus seemed to like the idea that Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos rolled out on Sunday. Bezos says a package would leave an Amazon fulfillment center like the ones being built right now in Ruskin and Lakeland, and within 30 minutes -- if your address is within a 10-mile radius -- any item five pounds or less would travel through the air thanks to an unmanned drone. It would land right at your door thanks to GPS technology.

Bezos says 86 percent of the items they deliver are up to five pounds.

Matilda Adamec likes the idea of drone delivery.

"When there's room for improvement in technology I'm all for it," she says.

Robert Zimmerman says he's for it and has no concern about airspace safety.

"I mean there's already a lot of stuff up there anyway."

10 News showed the Amazon's drones to Jack Tunstill who's a pilot and flight instructor at Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg. He's also an Amazon customer who says, "I've got something coming this week."

But Tunstill says he has some real concerns about sharing his airspace with drones.

"The last thing I want -- from a pilot's perspective -- is to have a piece of equipment out there running around that somebody thinks is going to do the right thing. Murphy will interfere with any of this stuff and an autonomous aircraft without anybody watching over it..." Murphy shakes his head at the thought.

He says getting the Federal Aviation Administration to approve drone delivery is going to be a huge hurdle.

"The FAA is notorious for not being on time. Congress passed a law requiring them to put photo ID's on pilot license's. It still hasn't happened."

We asked UPS and FedEx where they stand on the use of drones.  Here's what they had to say:

FedEx statement:

"FedEx is always interested in new technology to better serve our customers. While we can't speculate about this particular technology, I can say that making every customer experience outstanding is our priority, and anything we do from a technology standpoint will be with that in mind. Our people have been instrumental in the success of our company over the past 40 years and will continue to be what makes FedEx special."

UPS statement:

"We're in the logistics business and have been innovators for the benefit of our customers for decades. The commercial use of drones is an interesting technology and we'll continue to evaluate it.  UPS invests more in technology than any other company in the delivery business, and we're always planning for the future."

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