E-commerce behemoth Amazon has fired several employees who were part of its Prime Air drone delivery project, Financial Times reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the company has laid off “dozens” of employees working on the firm’s drone project while also seeking out manufacturing deals with third-party vendors. The company is laying off “staff involved in the Prime Air drone program’s research, development, and manufacturing units”.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the layoffs, saying the “reorganization” is a means “to allow us to best align with the needs of our customers and the business”.
The report cited sources as saying that Amazon is still “years away” from the project properly taking off. It said that Amazon is in talks with two manufacturers, FACC Aerospace and Aernnova Aerospace. However, no deal has been finalized yet.
In September, reports surfaced that Amazon has come to a step closer to launching drone delivery of packages in the US after it received a crucial certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
With the possession of what is called Part 135 air carrier certificate, Amazon can run its fleet of Prime Air delivery drones, CNBC had reported.
According to the FAA, Part 135 certification is the “only path for small drones to carry the property of another for compensation beyond visual line of sight”.
Following the crucial approval, Amazon said it will start testing customer deliveries.
“This certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world,” David Carbon, Vice President of Prime Air, was quoted as saying in a statement.
“We will continue to develop and refine our technology to fully integrate delivery drones into the airspace, and work closely with the FAA and other regulators around the world to realize our vision of 30-minute delivery.”
The e-commerce giant started testing delivery drones way back in 2013 with the aim of delivering packages within 30 minutes. Several other companies, including UPS and Alphabet-owned Wing, have received Part 135 certification from the FAA.