Wing Aviation, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet, has become the first drone delivery company to receive approval from the US Government.
Elaine L. Chao, transport secretary, said the company had been awarded the air carrier certification by the Federal Aviation Administration. The move followed extensive testing with deliveries to customers in a trial held in Australia.
Having won the FAA’s backing, the firm will be able to launch a commercial service to deliver goods from local businesses to homes across the US. Wing said the move by the US Government “presents new opportunities”.
Founded in 2012, California-based Wing uses custom-designed drones to deliver packages “safely, reliably and efficiently”. Wing has developed a traffic management system that plans the best route and takes into account safety, efficiency and aviation regulation. “Goods like medicine or food can now be delivered faster by drone, giving families, shift workers, and other busy consumers more time to do the things that matter,” explained Wing.
“Air delivery also provides greater autonomy to those who need assistance with mobility. Also, our all-electric drones will reduce traffic on our roads and pollution and carbon emissions in our skies.”
To qualify for an air carrier certificate, Wing had to demonstrate that its operations could meet the rigorous safety requirements set by the FAA.
“FAA certification required us to submit evidence that our operations are safe. These submissions included data showing that a delivery by Wing carries a lower risk to pedestrians than the same trip made by car,” Wing continued. “Our drones have flown over 70,000 test flights, and more than 3,000 deliveries to doorsteps, driveways and backyards of our customers in Australia.”
Now that it has government approval, Wing will focus on refining its business model and technology with the aim of launching a US trial by the end of 2019. The firm said: “For the next several months, we’ll be reaching out to businesses and community members in the Blacksburg and Christiansburg areas to demonstrate our technology, answer questions, and solicit feedback with the goal of launching a delivery trial later this year.
“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. Air Carrier Certification is an important step that will ultimately allow us to create air delivery services for communities in America.”
Elaine L Chao said: “This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential.”