Xwing expands cargo fleet as it continues push for autonomous flying
29 / 07 / 2022
US tech-startup Xwing has expanded its cargo fleet through two recent acquisitions as it looks to secure approvals for autonomous operations.
The tech firm has followed up last year’s purchase of AirPac Airlines with Texas-based FAA Part 135 cargo carrier Martinaire Aviation.
These acquisitions, combined with organic growth, now bring Xwing’s total cargo fleet to 35 aircraft flying more than 400 weekly commercial flights across the US, making the company one of the larger Cessna 208B operators in the cargo feeder market.
The company hopes these flights will help it secure regulatory approvals needed for its autonomous flight operations, with the company now operating two Part 145 certified aircraft maintenance facilities in addition to its Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate.
“Xwing’s primary goal for expanding its commercial air cargo operations is to continue sharpening its operational capabilities across all aspects of air cargo and to streamline the rollout of its autonomous technologies within its fleet once certified,” the company said.
Xwing founder and chief executive Marc Piette said: “Our commercial cargo operations are key to our certification approach.
“When it comes to integrating unmanned aircraft in the airspace, the FAA operational approvals are just as important as certification of the technology on board the aircraft.
“Using data gathered from our commercial cargo routes, we can continuously optimise and refine our system end to end, and get to the best solution for our customers.”
The company said that to date it has completed close to 10,000 flights, carrying 2,200 tonnes of cargo.
While Xwing continues its work towards certifying autonomous flight technology with the FAA, the company’s commercial cargo flights have been conducted by pilots flying standard, unmodified Cessna Caravan airplanes under its Part 135 certificate.
The company has demonstrated fully autonomous gate-to-gate capabilities since February 2021, including the ability to autonomously taxi on and off the runway successfully while navigating various obstacles and operations on the ground.