Wing, the alpha-owned start, has become the first drone supplier to get the Federal Aviation Administration approval to make commercial deliveries in the United States. Bloomberg reports that the company was granted the regulator’s blessing after fulfilling many of the security requirements of a traditional airline.
Getting FAA’s airline approval was necessary for how Wing wants to run its drone deliveries. Current FAA regulations prevent a drone from flying outside an operator’s line of sight, while automated delivery licenses have previously been granted only for demonstrations where drone companies have not allowed to accept payment for their services. Getting the FAA’s airline approval meant creating safety manuals and training routines and implementing a security hierarchy.
The approval means that Wing, which has the same parent company as Google, can begin delivering in Virginia in the coming months, where it plans to deliver goods from local businesses to rural communities in Blacksburg and Christiansburg. Wing will be able to apply for the FAA’s permission to expand into other regions in the future.
The FAA is the second regulator that has given Wing progress to launch a commercial drone delivery service. Earlier this month, the Australian regulator CASA gave the alphabet-owned start the right to deliver in Canberra to about 1
00 homes after the completion of a successful 18-month trial involving 3,000 deliveries.
For Wing, FAA’s approval took a few months, but Bloomberg notes that the process is likely to be much faster for future drone delivery companies now that the regulator has devised which air traffic rules are appropriate for drone operators. These competitors may include Amazon’s Prime Air, which has not yet launched a commercial drone delivery service despite having completed its first public demonstration in the US back in 2017.