Xwing and its Uncrewed Aircraft System, Superpilot Become FAA’s First ‘Standard’ UAS Certification Project

  • April 12, 2023

 Xwing – the autonomous aviation company has submitted a Project Specific Certification Plan (PSCP) to the FAA, becoming the first Standard Category large unmanned aerial system to receive official project designation. This marks the beginning of the process for approval of uncrewed commercial cargo operations in the national airspace.

Unlike other aviation projects that focus on augmenting piloted operations with autonomous technology or have Special Category certification, Xwing’s Superpilot technology integrates into existing type-certified aircraft to enable unmanned operations that work within the existing air traffic control system. Superpilot harnesses advanced AI and machine-learning technologies to become the world’s first fully autonomous, gate-to-gate flight technology.

  • Xwing’s Superpilot is the first Uncrewed Aircraft System certification project designed to meet the full ‘standard’ airworthiness safety requirements that the FAA has established for traditional passenger aircraft.
  • Xwing’s certification project is the first Uncrewed Aircraft System to include Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is used to improve the safety of operations at or around runways.
  • Xwing operates a Part 135 air carrier and flies 400 cargo flights a week for UPS, and works closely with FAA to transition its full fleet of Cessna Caravans to fully remote cargo operations.

“Xwing is leading the way for aviation automation with a pragmatic approach to compliance and safety,” said Earl Lawrence, Chief Compliance and Quality Officer at Xwing. “Adherence to the existing regulatory framework, our operational expertise as an air-carrier, and use of already certified aircraft, enables us to meet the high safety standards required in aviation today. With the ability to work transparently within the air-traffic control system, Xwing’s technology has the potential to take safety to an even higher level.”

With project designation, Xwing is now on a recognized path toward regulatory approval for uncrewed commercial cargo flights. This process represents the first time the FAA has assigned resources to a UAS for a Standard Category airworthiness certificate. Although focused on air cargo operations, Superpilot will be benchmarked against the current aviation safety standards for passenger aircraft, among the highest standards of avionic safety.

The company’s pragmatic approach to autonomous system development accelerates the introduction of complete autonomy within air cargo. Upon certification, Xwing’s Superpilot system has the potential to improve flight operations via:

  • Make high-risk flight phases safer: Xwing is the first certification project to use AI and machine learning to improve the safety of taxi, take-off and landing, the highest-risk phases of commercial aviation.
  • Increase overall flight safety: Xwing’s automation of all phases of flight with ‘human on-the-loop’ supervision improves safety by combining the ability to communicate in real-time with air traffic control and other aircraft with sensors that can continuously see in the dark, in all weather, and in sun glare.
  • Reduce operational costs: Without a pilot tied to a physical aircraft, it is possible to reduce pilot costs and fly the aircraft more often, yielding more ROI per aircraft.
  • Connect more communities: Improving the economics of small aircraft operations and enabling flexible scheduling, cargo carriers can meet the needs of their rural and super-rural customers and offer more access to affordable express cargo options for local businesses.

The news arrives as airlines continue to struggle with pilot shortages, with United Airlines announcing that it expects carriers will need 10,000 new pilots this year but only have 6,000 qualified candidates. Simultaneously, e-commerce sales are set to top $6.3 trillion this year, increasing demand for regional transportation and delivery services. Together with its logistics partners, Xwing plans to bridge this gap in the market upon certification.

About Xwing

Founded in 2016, Xwing is a San Francisco-based autonomous aviation company that addresses unmet logistics needs in regional air cargo via its uncrewed air transportation system, Superpilot. Xwing is the only company with an active FAA certification project that will bring uncrewed, autonomous aircraft to market with passenger-level safety standards across all flight phases.

For more information, visit xwing.com