Amazon Used Dentist Appointment to Delay Drone Crash Investigation

  • Amazon has tried to avoid federal investigations into delivery drone crashes, documents show. 
  • An Amazon representative tried to delay an FAA investigation by saying he had a dentist appointment, according to one document. 
  • Amazon is testing drones for a future delivery option that will use autonomous drones. 

Amazon Prime Air, the company’s autonomous drone delivery project, on multiple occasions attempted to delay federal investigations into drone crashes, according to documents Insider obtained through a public records request. 

In one crash report seen by Insider, Federal Aviation Administration inspector Jim Holden noted that Amazon’s representative had tried to postpone the crash inspection by saying he had a dentist appointment. In the same report, Holden wrote that Amazon had not provided photos and information about the incident a month after it happened.

The documents outline several instances suggesting that Prime Air tried to avoid or postpone investigations by the FAA, which regulates drone flights in the US. At least twice, Amazon removed drone wreckage before FAA inspectors could investigate, according to the documents.

An Amazon spokesperson said that Insider’s characterization of the FAA documents was “misleading and inaccurate,” adding that Prime Air has “complied with all incident reporting, investigation, and other applicable regulatory requirements.” The company also said it’s now its policy to notify the agency before moving crash debris. 

In the past year, at least eight Amazon drones have crashed during testing, Insider previously reported, including one that ignited a 20-acre brush fire in eastern Oregon. 

Prime Air has faced numerous delays since it opened its doors in 2013. Amazon hopes to launch the service to customers in a limited capacity by mid-2024 and is seeking FAA approval to fly its drones in residential areas. 

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