Amazon Prime Air

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Amazon Prime Air
Amazon Prime Air Logo.jpg
IATA ICAO Callsign
AMZ
Founded 2016
Hubs
Fleet size 18
Parent company Amazon.com
Website amazon.com

Amazon Prime Air is a cargo airline and conceptual drone-based delivery system currently in development by Amazon.com. The cargo side is based at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio. The hub began operations on April 30, 2017 and will quickly expand under a $1.49-billion expansion plan with 40 Boeing 767-300F's and 200 daily takeoff and landings.

Cargo Development[edit]

Amazon One

On January 31, 2017, Amazon announced that Amazon Prime Air would make Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport its principal hub with flights beginning on May 1, 2017. Amazon received $40 million in tax incentives and plans to begin construction on a 920-acre facility with a 3 million sq-ft sorting facility and parking space for 100 cargo aircraft. Amazon initially plans to base 40 Boeing 767-300F aircraft at CVG to operate 200 daily takeoff and landing across the U.S. and internationally. All together, the hub will create 2,700 jobs in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.[1] The aircraft will be operated by a combination of crews from Air Transport International and Atlas Air, who are currently receiving freighter conversions.

Drone Development[edit]

Concept[edit]

On December 1, 2013, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos revealed plans for Amazon Prime Air in an interview on 60 Minutes. Amazon Prime Air will use multirotor Miniature Unmanned Air Vehicle (Miniature UAV), otherwise known as drone, technology to autonomously fly individual packages to customers’ doorsteps within 30 minutes of ordering.[2] To qualify for 30 minute delivery, the order must be less than 5 pounds (2.26 kg), must be small enough to fit in the cargo box that the craft will carry, and must have a delivery location within a 10-mile radius of a participating Amazon order fulfillment center.[2] 86% of packages sold by Amazon fit the weight qualification of the program.[citation needed]

First Deliveries[edit]

On December 7, 2016, Amazon successfully delivered a Prime Air parcel to an actual customer in the Cambridge area of England, UK. They have also built a Prime Air fulfillment center in the Cambridge area which will soon be opened to "dozens of customers", then "hundreds more in the future". The company posted a video on their official YouTube channel[3] on December 14, 2016 showing the successful delivery. The company's CEO, Jeff Bezos, also tweeted[4] about the success.

Regulations[edit]

Presently, one of the biggest hurdles facing Amazon Prime Air in the USA is the fact that commercial use of UAV technology is not yet legal there.[5] In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress issued the Federal Aviation Administration a deadline of September 30, 2015 to accomplish a "safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system."[6]

In March 2015 the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Amazon permission to begin US testing of a prototype. The company responded by claiming that the vehicle cleared for use was obsolete. In April 2015, the agency allowed the company to begin testing its current models. In the interim, the company had begun testing at a secret Canadian site 2,000 ft (610 m) from the US border.[7]

The agency mandated that Amazon's drones fly no higher than 400 ft (122 m), no faster than 100 mph (161 km/h), and remain within the pilot's line of sight. These rules are consistent with a proposed set of FAA guidelines. Ultimately, Amazon hopes to operate in a slice of airspace above 200 ft (61 m) and beneath 500 ft (152 m), with 500 ft being where general aviation begins. It plans to fly drones weighing a maximum of 55 lb (25 kg) within a 10 mi (16 km) radius of its warehouses, at speeds of up to 50 mph (80.5 km/h) with packages weighing up to 5 lb (2.26 kg) in tow.[7]

One issue the company faces is the need for special fulfillment centres which require special technology to accommodate drone operations within a certain radius. The company appeared to suggest in their video[3] that they will need to build special fulfillment centres close to where the drones will be delivering items. It is clear that this is a huge hurdle which the company will need to overcome in the near future. On the 15th of December 2016, Amazon began its first publicly available trial of Amazon Prime Air to those within several miles of Amazon's depot in Cambridge.

Public concerns[edit]

Public concerns regarding this technology include public safety, privacy, and package security issues.[5] Amazon states that "Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards."[8] However, while privacy and security remain concerns, the FAA's recently proposed rules for small UAS operations and certifications only provides provisions on its technical and functional aspects.[9]

The fact that the drone's navigational airspace exists below 400 feet is a big step toward safety management.[5] In February 2016, the FAA established a committee to develop guidelines for regulating safe UAV flight over populated areas.[10]

Privacy[edit]

Concerns over the constant connection of the drones to the internet raises concerns over personal privacy. The primary purpose of drone internet connection will be to manage flight controls and communication between drones.[11] However, the extent of Amazon's data collection from the drones is unclear.[12] Some proposed data inputs include automated object detection, GPS surveillance, gigapixel cameras, and enhanced image resolution.[13] Because of this, Amazon's operating center will collect unknown amounts of information, both intentionally and unintentionally, throughout the delivery process. Neither Amazon or the FAA has formed a clear policy on the management of this data.

Ancient Monuments[edit]

In the UK, Amazon Prime Air drones have been reportedly testing over Fleam Dyke, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest, to the discontent of local bodies.[14]

Destinations[edit]

Amazon Prime Air flies scheduled flights to the following destinations:

Hubs/Focus Cities
Future Destinations
Seasonal
Terminated Destinations
City State IATA Airport Notes
Allentown Pennsylvania ABE Lehigh Valley International Airport
Baltimore Maryland BWI Baltimore–Washington International Airport
Charlotte North Carolina CLT Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Chicago Illinois RFD Chicago Rockford International Airport
Cincinnati Ohio CVG Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
Dallas/Fort Worth Texas DFW Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Ontario California ONT Ontario International Airport
Phoenix Arizona PHX Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
San Antonio Texas SKF Lackland Air Force Base
Seattle/Tacoma Washington SEA Seattle–Tacoma International Airport
Stockton California SCK Stockton Metropolitan Airport
Tampa Florida TPA Tampa International Airport
Wilmington Ohio ILN Airborne Airpark ended April 30, 2017

Fleet[edit]

Amazon Air has a fleet that entirely comprises Boeing 767 aircraft, all on lease from Atlas Air and Air Transport International. The first aircraft were delivered in May 2016, with more on order.[15]

Aircraft In fleet Orders Notes
Boeing 767-200F 13 0
Boeing 767-300F 10 21

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amazon to create $1.5B air hub at CVG". Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Amazon Unveils Futuristic Plan: Delivery by Drone". CBS News. 1 December 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b amazon (2016-12-14), Amazon Prime Air’s First Customer Delivery, retrieved 2016-12-15 
  4. ^ "Jeff Bezos on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-12-15. 
  5. ^ a b c Orsini, Lauren (2 December 2013). "To Deliver With Prime Air Drones, Amazon Has to Solve These 3 Problems". Readwrite.com. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012" (PDF). FAA.gov. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Lavars, Nick (April 12, 2015). "Amazon to begin testing new delivery drones in the US". Gizmag. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Amazon Prime Air". Amazon.com. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Thompson II, Richard M. (30 March 2015). "Domestic Drones and Privacy: A Primer" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. 
  10. ^ "Press Release – FAA Unveils Effort to Expand the Safe Integration of Unmanned Aircraft". FAA.gov. Retrieved 2016-02-27. 
  11. ^ Mac, Ryan (28 July 2015). "Amazon Proposes Drone Highway As It Readies For Flying Package Delivery". Forbes. 
  12. ^ Singer, Peter W. (8 March 2013). "The Predator Comes Home: A Primer on Domestic Drones, their Huge Business Opportunities, and their Deep Political, Moral, and Legal Challenges". Brookings. 
  13. ^ Schlag, Chris (30 May 2013). "The New Privacy Battle: How the Expanding Use of Drones Continues to Erode Our Concept of Privacy and Privacy Rights". Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law and Policy. 13 (2). doi:10.5195/tlp.2013.123. 
  14. ^ "Amazon drone trial over Fleam Dyke 'horrifying'". BBC. 
  15. ^ "Prime Air Fleet". Plane Spotters.