In a document seeking feedback on new drone policies, the FAA indicated that it does not want unmanned aircraft "delivering packages to people for a fee." Even if a company doesn't collect a fee—as Amazon has proposed—drone deliveries count as commercial activity, the agency says. And that's against the rules. (Updated below)
The move is sure to raise a few questions, namely whether or not the FAA has the authority to make such a distinction. The FAA has long said that the use of commercial drones is illegal, but a federal court ruled earlier this year that the FAA did not have legal authority over small aircraft. While that decision was largely read as a de facto legalization of commercial drones, the rules governing exactly how commercial drones should be regulated remain unwritten. Meanwhile, the FAA is in the process of appealing the decision.