In the latest sign of the importance of its drone program, Amazon.com Inc. has hired the former number-two executive at the Air Line Pilots Association to help with the project.
Sean Cassidy, an Alaska Air Group Inc. pilot and former member of a Transportation Security Administration aviation-security advisory committee, is joining Amazon to oversee “partner relationships,” according to his LinkedIn page.
An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed the hiring but declined to comment further.
Mr. Cassidy adds heft to the drone project, known at Prime Air. Amazon hopes to use drones to make unmanned deliveries within about 10 miles of a warehouse.
The Federal Aviation Administration this year issued proposed rules that would bar Amazon and other companies from testing drones beyond their line of sight, a setback to commercial applications.
The FAA recently approved an Amazon request to test drones outdoors in the U.S., but Amazon says the permission applies to an antiquated drone model.
To push for more open skies in the U.S., Amazon has threatened to move more of its drone operations overseas. Amazon recently let the Guardian newspaper visit its testing site in Canada, where regulations are more lax, and has been adding staff in the U.K.
Mr. Cassidy will be based in Washington, D.C., according to a copy of a letter he sent to colleagues from his union email account, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
As an executive of the pilots union, Mr. Cassidy was sometimes critical of drones. In February 2014, he told Politico, “We have to do everything possible to battle the idea that this is no different than flying a paper airplane in your backyard.”
Mr. Cassidy didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. His hiring was previously reported by Politico.
Source: Wall Street Journal