Amazon’s drone delivery program, Prime Air, has been hindered by strict regulations imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Despite receiving certification from the FAA, the agency has placed limitations on Amazon’s drone operations which have impacted the number of deliveries made. According to a recent report, Amazon’s drones have made just a handful of deliveries in their first few weeks of operation, with as few as seven houses receiving packages by drone.
The FAA is said to have blocked drones from flying over roads or people unless Amazon receives permission on a case-by-case basis. One of the agreements reached with the FAA was for Amazon employees to check for cars passing on surrounding roads before drones depart from the Lockeford delivery facility.
One major issue is the weight of Amazon’s drone, which weighs around 80 pounds and can only carry a five-pound payload. This has caused concern among FAA officials as the drone’s weight exceeds that of competitors such as Wing, Flytrex, and Zipline, which weigh between 10 and 40 pounds. The FAA has given Wing, Flytrex, and Zipline permission to fly over roadways, which is a major advantage for the companies as they have already carried out more than 300,000 deliveries.
Furthermore, the delivery service requires a backyard for packages to be dropped off, limiting the number of eligible recipients to those who own homes with a backyard. Additionally, the drone is only capable of carrying a certain size of the box and drops packages from 12 feet in the air, further limiting the types of products it can transport.
Despite these setbacks, Amazon remains committed to the Prime Air program. A spokesperson for the company stated that Amazon meets or exceeds all safety standards and has obtained regulatory authorization to conduct commercial drone delivery operations. The spokesperson added that the recent layoffs, which have reportedly reduced the size of the delivery teams at both Texas and California test sites by over half, have not affected Amazon’s plans for the program.