Drone company gets OK to start delivering packages in Blacksburg

Andrew Cummings
April 24, 2019

The Federal Aviation Administration has certified Alphabet's Wing Aviation to operate as an airline, in a first for USA drone delivery companies.

According to a report in Bloomberg, drone delivery startup Wing has won the approval of FAA regulators to begin drone delivery operations in the United States after meeting the requirements normally reserved for airlines.

With the certification in hand, Wing Aviation can turn its tests into commercial deliveries in the U.S.

Wing said its next step is to expand its participation in the government's Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program in southwest Virginia. "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", the company said. Burgess believes the extensive paperwork it's created will lead to other drone delivery companies getting quicker FAA approval. "Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential", says U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao.

The company has also conducted a test program in Australia that involved more than 3,000 drone deliveries to doorsteps, backyards and driveways. "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", Wing wrote in the Medium post Tuesday. The FAA is also considering moving ahead with additional rules in response to public safety and national security concerns as it works to integrate drones with airplane traffic. But drones have faced more obstacles in delivering retail packages and food because of federal regulations that bar most flights over crowds of people and beyond sight of the operator without a waiver from the FAA.

Amazon is working on drone delivery, a topic keen to CEO Jeff Bezos. At the end of 2018, The Associated Press reported that "110,000 commercial drones are operating in US airspace", citing government figures that also projected the number would more than quadruple in 2022.

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