Amazon Prime Air Drone Project Sacks Dozens of Staff, Taps New Manufacturers: Report

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Amazon has laid off dozens of R&D and manufacturing staff from its delivery drone project, Amazon Prime Air, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The company has reached tentative deals with two external manufacturers to build component parts of its long-awaited drone, the newspaper reported, adding that more deals with third parties could be finalised soon.

The full terms of the agreements with Austria’s FACC Aerospace and Spain’s Aernnova Aerospace were still being finalised, the FT report said, citing a person familiar with Amazon’s plans.

Amazon, Aernnova and FACC did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Jeff Wilke, the chief executive officer of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, had said in June that drone deliveries will be available “in months.”

“We’ve been hard at work building fully electric drones that can fly up to 15 miles (25 kilometres) and deliver packages under five pounds (2.3 kilograms) to customers in less than 30 minutes,” Wilke said in a blog post.

“And, with the help of our world-class fulfilment and delivery network, we expect to scale Prime Air both quickly and efficiently, delivering packages via drone to customers within months.”

The company conducted its first test of drone deliveries in 2016 in Britain. At the time, it said US regulations made it harder to use drones for delivery in the US.

Later in September, Amazon was granted approval to deliver packages by drones by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Amazon said that the approval is an “important step,” but added that it is still testing and flying the drones. It did not say when it expected drones to make deliveries to shoppers.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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