The path to deploying business aircraft that can handle all aspects of flight without a pilot is long, gale, expensive and riddled with regulatory and technical overcomes. Marc Piette, the founder of autonomous aviation startup Xwing, has the intention to stimulate that move to pilotless flight shorter and more cost-effective.
Instead of construct autonomous helicopters and airplanes from the ground up, Xwing is focused on the application load that will enable pilotless flight of existing aircraft. Now, the company is sharing details of its go-to-market strategy several months after raising $ 10 million in new sources of funding and following successful autonomous test flights in a Cessna 208 B Grand Caravan. Xwing said it has completed since July more than 70 hours of instrument age for grind and flight experiments, and more than 40 hours of automated flight time.
The Cessna 208 B Grand Caravan, a utility aircraft that has historically been used for cargo, flight training and humanitarian assignments, is likely to be the initial centerpiece of its plan to operate commercial-grade merchandise flights. The propose is to have a regional focus and operate within a 500 -mile range with flight path over unpopulated areas.
Xwing will operate the fleet. However, Piette said the company is also open to partnerships and licensing the technology to other operators.
Xwing’s so-called Autoflight System is designed to be aircraft agnostic. And it still is, Piette said in a recent phone interview. The Cessna 208 B Grand Caravan is just the beginning.
” It’s still in make, it’s a safe aircraft and it’s a good stage for us to convert to an unmanned aircraft here ,” Piette said.
Piette believes that retrofitting existing aircraft with its Autoflight System will speed up deployment, while maintaining safety and holding rates in check. The Autoflight System incorporated into onboard flight control systems that allow the plane to steer, taken away from and shore autonomously. The plan is designed to be supervised by remote motorists who work with air traffic controllers, according to Xwing.
Before commercial operations can start, Xwing is necessary regulatory approval.
Xwing has the necessary Part 135 Air Carrier certificate required to launch its commercial-grade business, which was obtained when it acquired a company running commuter actions. Xwing is now updating the certificate for baggage the activities and 208 B Cessna Caravans. Xwing still needs the FAA to provide flight certification for unmanned Cessna 208 B Grand Caravan aircraft with baggage faculty of over 4,000 pounds. Xwing has been working with the FAA and has also been involved for more than a year with NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Arrangement( UAS in the NAS) platform, an initiative meant to mature the key remaining engineerings that are needed to integrate unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace.
” I’m not going to minimize the new challenges now because this is quite novel for the regulator and it’s also complex in nature from a refuge position ,” Piette said.” I’d love to be able to start these commercial payload business unmanned in the U.S, in the very early 2022 time frame. We’ll have to see if we are able to draw that happen .”
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