Amazon unveils futuristic mini-drone delivery plan

Updated 28 December 2013

Amazon unveils futuristic mini-drone delivery plan

WASHINGTON: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has revealed that his company is looking to the future with plans to use "octocopter" mini-drones to fly small packages to consumers in just 30 minutes.
The US retail giant's ambitious project still requires additional safety testing and federal approval, but Bezos estimated that Amazon "Prime Air" would be up and running within four to five years.
A demo video posted on the company's website showed the tiny robotic devices picking up packages in small yellow buckets from Amazon's fulfillment centers and then whizzing through the air to deliver the items to customers just 30 minutes after they made their purchase on Amazon.com.
"I know this looks like science fiction. It's not," Bezos told CBS television's "60 Minutes" program.
"We can do half-hour delivery... and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3 kilograms), which covers 86 percent of the items that we deliver."
The mini-drones are powered by electric motors and could cover areas within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of fulfillment centers, thus covering a significant portion of the population in urban areas.
They operate autonomously and drop the items at the target locations thanks to GPS coordinates transmitted to them.
"It's very green, it's better than driving trucks around," said Bezos.
Amazon said the octocopters would be "ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place," noting that the Federal Aviation Administration was actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles.
It projected a more optimistic timeline than Bezos himself for the project to be activated, saying the FAA's rules could be in place as early as 2015 and that Amazon Prime Air would be ready at that time.
Bezos hinted that part of the motivation behind the mini-drones was to make sure Amazon remains on the cutting edge of the retail industry.
"Companies have short life spans... And Amazon will be disrupted one day," he said.
"I would love for it to be after I'm dead."


China's aviation regulator raised concerns with Boeing on 737 MAX design changes

Updated 12 December 2019

China's aviation regulator raised concerns with Boeing on 737 MAX design changes

  • China is reviewing the airworthiness of the plane
  • China was first country to ground plane in March

BEIJING: China’s aviation regulator raised “important concerns” with Boeing Co. on the reliability and security of design changes to the grounded 737 MAX, it said on Thursday, but declined to comment on when the plane might fly again in China.
China is reviewing the airworthiness of the plane based on proposed changes to software and flight control systems according to a bilateral agreement with the United States, Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) spokesman Liu Luxu told reporters at a monthly briefing.
He reiterated that for the plane to resume flights in China, it needed to be re-certified, pilots needed comprehensive and effective training to restore confidence in the model and the causes of two crashes that killed 346 people needed to be investigated with effective measures put in place to prevent another one.
China was the first country to ground the 737 MAX after the second crash in Ethiopia in March and had set up a task force to review design changes to the aircraft that Boeing had submitted.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will not allow the 737 MAX to resume flying before the end of 2019, its chief, Steve Dickson, said on Wednesday.
Once the FAA approves the reintroduction into service, the 737 MAX can operate in the United States, but individual regulators could keep the planes grounded in other countries until they complete their own reviews.
“Due to the trade war, the jury is still out on when China would reintroduce the aircraft,” said Rob Morris, Global Head of Consultancy at Ascend by Cirium.
Chinese airlines had 97 737 MAX jets in operation before the global grounding, the most of any country, according to Cirium Fleets Analyzer.