A US aviation firm has secured a major victory after being certified by the Federal Aviation Authority to become the first drone operator in the world to be officially recognized as an airline.
Wing Aviation, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has confirmed that US Federal Aviation authorities have given them the green light to start commercial deliveries. A number of global technology leader have been actively pursuing and trialing drone technologies in an effort to explore how the nascent technology can transform and enhance certain industries.
Drone firms have faced an intense battle to win over regulators and the hearts and minds of the general public who have expressed their skepticism that drones represent a huge safety and privacy concern. However, this landmark decision by the FAA is expected to pave the way for the creation of a new industry.
Wing Aviation plans to start delivering a variety of small items such as food and medicine to customers using its drones after they place orders using an app. US Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, expressed her delight at the announcement and said it provided a further illustration at how the US continues to be at the coalface in terms of embracing and integrating new technologies.
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."
As drones increasingly continue to populate the skies in many parts of the world, regulators have been pushed to formulate rules -- for everyone from hobbyists to commercial delivery services.This is the second major approval for Wing, which has been testing its drones in the United States, Finland and Australia.
Earlier this month, after a series of extensive trials for over a year and a half, Australian authorities finally allowed them to start delivering small items such as food and over-the-counter pharmacy items to residents of the capital Canberra.
However, one stipulation that Australia authorities insisted upon is that Wing's must be piloted and can’t be autonomous.
In a statement after the approval, Wing claimed its data showed "that a delivery by Wing carries a lower risk to pedestrians than the same trip made by car," and that it had carried out more than 70,000 test flights and 3,000 deliveries in Australia.