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Amazon’s new cargo plane is clear to land

With its “Prime Air” branding, Amazon’s new aircraft may at first glance be considered as an unnecessarily extravagant redesign of its identically named delivery drone. But it’s not. Instead, it’s the company’s most striking statement yet of its bold ambition to take full control of its entire delivery operation.

It was toward the end of last year that we first heard the e-commerce giant was operating several cargo planes out of a facility in Ohio as part of a trial to see if it could handle such a huge logistical undertaking. Seems like it can.

With “Prime Air” emblazoned on the sides, “Amazon” painted on the belly, and its “smile” logo on the tail, the company’s first-ever branded cargo plane – a Boeing 767-300 aircraft – will take to the skies for the first time on Friday, performing a flyover for aviation fans attending the Seafair Air Show in the company’s home city of Seattle.

amazon cargo plane
Amazon

The new plane, operated by Amazon’s air cargo providers Atlas Air and ATSG, will join 11 others currently criss-crossing the U.S. for the web giant. Another 30 are set to join the fleet over time, enabling the company to rely less heavily on partners such as FedEx and UPS, and reducing costs in the process.

“Creating an air transportation network is expanding our capacity to ensure great delivery speeds for our Prime members for years to come,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said in a release.

Related: Watch this USPS driver deliver an Amazon package Frisbee-style

The company has recently been ramping up efforts to get packages delivered to its customers in super-quick time. Besides its cargo planes, it also has a network of 4,000 Amazon-branded trailers transporting packages between warehouses and sorting canters. And for “last mile” deliveries it recently launched an Uber-style system to get more delivery drivers on the road, while couriers in some parts of the country use subway trains and bicycles to deliver goods.

Of course, it’s still investing much time and money in the development of its Prime Air delivery drone, though it’ll need a green light from the Federal Aviation Administration before that particular part of its fast-expanding logistics strategy becomes a reality.