Google offshoot becomes first US government approved drone operator

Move allows Wing to deliver small consumer items in two rural communities in Virginia

Wing now has the same certifications that smaller airlines receive from the US Federal Aviation Administration  and the department of transportation. Photograph: iStock

Wing now has the same certifications that smaller airlines receive from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the department of transportation. Photograph: iStock

 

An offshoot of Google has become the first drone operator to receive US government approval as an airline, an important step that gives it the legal authority to begin dropping products to actual customers.

The subsidiary, Wing, now has the same certifications that smaller airlines receive from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the department of transportation. It plans to begin routine deliveries of small consumer items in two rural communities in Virginia within months, the company said.

Regulations

“It’s an exciting moment for us have earned the FAA’s approval to actually run a business with our technology,” Wing chief executive James Ryan Burgess said in an interview. He called it “pivotal” both for his company and the drone industry in general.

Drone regulations still don’t permit most flights over crowds and urban areas, limiting where Wing can operate. But the approvals signed by the FAA on Friday and Monday give the company the ability to charge for deliveries of clients’ goods in Virginia and apply for permission to expand to other regions.

While scores of companies working in test programmes have got FAA waivers to perform demonstration flights or to make deliveries over short distances, there has never been a drone company approved under the regulations designed to ensure safety at traditional charter airlines or smaller air-cargo haulers.

– Bloomberg