Alphabet’s Wing Aviation is the first company to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate as an airline for drone delivery in the United States. Alphabet, parent company of Google, took in Wing Aviation as an independent subsidiary as of July 2018. Since then, Wing has been closely working with FAA regulatory officials to submit evidence and demonstrate that their operations are safe.
Wing has worked for six years to build a small, lightweight aircraft and navigational system that can safely deliver small packages on demand to specific destinations in only a few minutes. The company has since flown over 70,000 test flights, and more than 3,000 deliveries to doorsteps, driveways and backyards of customers in Australia. To achieve this, the aircraft employs a hover propellor used to reduce noise, wings designed for efficient horizontal flight, a retractable tether for raising and lowering packages, and many other technical features.
Throughout the testing, safety has been emphasized as Wing Aviation’s number one priority. Additionally, the company has highlighted other the potential for the air delivery service to bolster local business, minimize carbon emissions and relieve road congestion, all while maintaining community and customer privacy.
Wing Aviation has also been working closely with the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP), which was created by the FAA. They have utilized this working relationship with the FAA to also be allocated a flight testing area near Virginia Tech, where flights have been conducted since 2016. With its new Air Carrier Certification in hand, the company says it hopes to expand deliveries in southwest Virginia, recruiting businesses and potential customers in the Blacksburg and Christiansburg areas who want to try out the delivery system.
Why it’s important: In order to make low-altitude airspace viable for drone transit, Wing Aviation plans to continue working closely with regulators and the aviation community in general. For the time being, the Air Carrier Certification is an important step that will ultimately allow Wing to create air delivery services for communities in the United States. Their service is enabling busy consumers to focus more time on the things that matter by providing access to goods such as food or medicine.
Sources // Wing, JustHelicopters