Wing, the startup company of Alphabet, was the first drone delivery company to receive US commercial clearance approval. Bloomberg reports that the company received the regulatory blessing after meeting many security requirements of a traditional airline.
The approval of the FAA as an airline was necessary for Wing to carry out its drone deliveries. Current FAA regulations prevent a drone from being flown out of the line of sight of an operator, while automated delivery licenses have so far only been granted for demonstrations where drone companies were not allowed to accept payments for their services. To obtain FAA certification as an airline, safety manuals and training routines had to be established and a safety hierarchy implemented.
The approval means that Wing, which has the same parent company as Google, may begin shipping in Virginia in the coming months, where it plans to deliver goods from local companies to rural communities in Blacksburg and Christiansburg. Wing can apply for permission from the FAA to expand to other regions in the future.
The FAA is the second regulator to grant Wing permission to launch a commercial drone delivery service. Earlier this month, the Australian regulator CASA gave Alphabet's start-up company the right to deliver to Canberra to about 1
For Wing, the approval of the FAA took months, but Bloomberg points out that the process is likely to be much faster for future drone delivery companies, as the regulator has now figured out which aviation regulations are appropriate for drone operators. These competitors could include Prime Air from Amazon, which has not yet launched a commercial drone delivery service, although he had already conducted his first public demonstration in the US in 2017.