FAA Certifies Google’s Wing Drone Delivery Company to Operate as Airline

by Bill Chappell, NPR Online

The Federal Aviation Administration has certified Alphabet’s Wing Aviation to operate as an airline, in a first for U.S. drone delivery companies. Wing, which began as a Google X project, has been testing its autonomous drones in southwest Virginia and elsewhere.

“Air Carrier Certification means that we can begin a commercial service delivering goods from local businesses to homes in the United States,” Wing said in a statement posted to the Medium website.

The company has touted many advantages of using unmanned drones to deliver packages, from reducing carbon emissions and road congestion to increasing connections between communities and local businesses.

“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,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a statement from the agency.

The FAA said Wing earned its air carrier certificate because it has shown “its operations met the FAA’s rigorous safety requirements.” Wing’s electric drones fly using 14 mostly top-mounted propellers, and can carry payloads up to a maximum of 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds). Wing hopes to expand its southwest Virginia delivery area later this year; it also plans to launch a European trial in Helsinki, Finland. Read full report.

DCL: Has to be a lot of CEP in the guidance and logistics of these drones. However I suspect we are going to get just as much chaos in the air as we now have on the ground! What do they do if nobody’s at home when they arrive with a delivery? Perhaps the homeowner has to have a landing pad on their roof or front lawn? The article leaves a lot to be answered!

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