Amazon Prime Air is idling: drones have only made about ten deliveries
Amazon’s drone delivery is in trouble. Tested since December 2022 in two cities in the United States, the Prime Air service suffers from the drastic limitations imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the federal agency in charge of civil aviation.
Drones too heavy?
For nearly two months now, Prime users in Lockeford, Calif., and College Station, Texas have been eligible for drone delivery. However, since the commercial launch of the service, less than a dozen households have been able to receive parcels by air, reveals The Information. Although the company has obtained authorization from the FAA to use “unmanned aircraft systems” in 2020, the latter comes with a slew of conditions. Contraindications on certain flights that Amazon has minimized until now.
Specifically, the US agency “stop [notamment] Amazon drones to fly over roads or people without permission on a case-by-case basis”, according to the revelations of our colleagues. Heavy constraints that would seriously impact the possibility for customers to use the service. These strict measures would be justified by the heavy weight of Amazon’s drones. With an empty weight of 80 pounds (about 36 kg), a falling device could seriously injure a passerby or damage a vehicle.
Competitors less affected by FAA rules
Weighing between 10 and 40 pounds (4.5-18 kg), competitors’ aircraft such as Wing (Alphabet) or Walmart would be able to fly over the roads. Meanwhile, Amazon in the latest round of layoffs reportedly cut many positions in drone safety teams at Lockeford, College Station and the test site in Pendleton, Oregon, according to reports. of Business Insider.
Contacted by our colleagues, an Amazon spokesperson tries to temper the situation: “We meet or exceed all safety standards and have obtained regulatory approval to conduct commercial drone delivery operations.“
And to add:We welcome the FAA’s rigorous assessments of how we operate, and we’ll continue to champion the important role regulators play in ensuring all drone companies meet the right standards of design, construction, and operation..”