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Amazon suspends drone delivery service in California Central Valley community

Amazon suspends Prime Air drone deliveries in Lockeford
Amazon suspends Prime Air drone deliveries in Lockeford 02:43

LOCKEFORD —  Amazon announced Monday that it suspended its drone delivery operations in the California Central Valley community of Lockeford.

The Prime Air location in Lockeford, a rural community within San Joaquin County, was one of the two Amazon drone delivery sites in the entire world. It took about a decade to get the project up and running.

"I would just be walking along and I'd hear this buzzing and I'd go 'What is that?' " said Tim Haystee, who lives in Lockeford. "I'd look off into the distance and I go, 'There's that drone.' "

Tim and Kathy Haystee's daughter signed up for the service and shared a video with CBS13 of one of the dozen deliveries she ordered via drone. In the video, you can see the 80-pound drone dropping a package that bounces off the landing pad that is placed on the driveway.

"It has to be under 5 pounds, so it has to be small things and it can't be breakable," Kathy said.

CBS13 took a tour of the state-of-the-art facility in Lockeford in October 2023 and saw the site that seemed to be taking off.

"We were pretty proud of Lockeford being one of the first test towns to try out the drones," Tim said.

Amazon sent an email to Prime Air customers Monday thanking them for their support but confirming it is closing drone delivery operations in Lockeford as of April 22.

That means it will be back to delivery trucks for the rural community, but the company is looking to take its drones elsewhere.

In a blog post, Amazon said it will continue its drone delivery operations in College Station Texas and announced it will start Prime Air in the West Valley of the Phoenix Metro Area in Arizona later this year.

"With this new location, we'll be fully integrated into Amazon's delivery network, meaning, for the first time, drones will deploy from facilities next to our Same-Day Delivery site in Tolleson," the blog post stated. "These smaller sites are hybrid – part fulfillment center, part delivery station. They allow us to fulfill, sort, and deliver products all from one site so we can get packages out to our customers even quicker."

The trillion-dollar company confirmed it never crashed on any delivery flights in Lockeford but still gave no definitive answer as to why it's taking its technology from the test site.

"A lot of people participated in it. We don't, but we don't need deliveries all the time like some people," Tim said.

Amazon said every employee with a job in Lockeford will have an opportunity at the other Prime Air locations. A spokesperson from San Joaquin County told CBS13 that there were about ten people working at the facility.

Patti Setson, chair of the Lockeford Municipal Advisory Council, provided a statement to CBS13 regarding the suspension of Prime Air in Lockeford:

"As a local Lockeford resident, I will miss seeing the drones operated and hearing the buzz overhead. I want to thank Amazon for investing in and giving a small community like Lockeford the opportunity to play a role in this innovation and expansion of their services. It means so much to small communities like ours to know that there is place for us in the 21st century economy. Amazon did a great job of investing in our local community in ways big and small. We will miss them as a good neighbor in our community and hope for opportunities like this in the future."

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