Xwing awarded contract to participate in the FAA’s COSTA Traffic Management Research Program

San Francisco, CA – WEBWIRE

  • The primary goal of the Crosscutting Operations Strategy and Technical Assessment (COSTA) Extensible Traffic Management (xTM) Research Project is to study how large Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) will integrate with existing Air Traffic Control (ATC) and leverage Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM)-based information services during live flight trials.
  • Xwing and its partners are leveraging autonomous gate-to-gate flight technology to collect data on the management of UAS operations in challenging flight environments.
  • Xwing, along with partners at Alaska’s Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, will conduct real world flight trials in partnership with the FAA and NASA directly.

Autonomous aviation company, Xwing, today announces its participation in the Crosscutting Operations Strategy and Technical Assessment (COSTA) project put forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The COSTA project explores the management of large commercial UAS and general aviation (GA) when transiting complex operating environments, such as Fire Traffic Areas (FTAs) during wildfire suppression events.

As wildfires continue to plague the Western regions of the United States, with over 5,000 occurring annually in California alone, it is essential that U.S. agencies determine how to leverage new technologies and services to best address and manage natural disasters. Current methods involve dynamic flight operations that primarily require manual coordination among helicopters, small drones, large drones, and manned aircraft to safely and simultaneously drop water/fire suppression in a small area. Recognizing these gaps, NASA is collaborating with disaster response agencies and the FAA to integrate UAS and UTM-based information services to improve disaster response efficiency.

As part of the collaborative effort, the FAA and its partners at Xwing and the Alaska Center for UAS Integration are evaluating information-centric approaches to improve management of traffic in the vicinity of FTAs, including general aviation and commercial UAS operations.

“This project will provide us with a more holistic view on how to best integrate large UAS in the existing National Airspace System” said CEO of Xwing, Marc Piette. “Leveraging UAS, we have the potential to make everything from wildfire fighting to oceanic operations more efficient and safe. We believe the data that we collect from these operations will be essential to helping the FAA and NASA bring unmanned flights to more types of operations in the aviation industry.”

The flight operations for this project will take place in Northern California, with the project currently underway and running through April 2023. These operations will leverage Xwing’s operational autonomous flight technology, deployed on our Cessna Caravan aircraft, with a safety pilot onboard for the missions. Missions will center on integrating large UAS into flight environments that include interactions between general aviation, commercial UAS, and disaster response air operations such as wildfire events. The goal of this project is to evaluate how the aircraft and remote operators interoperate with other aircraft, air traffic control in very active and dynamic environments. Additionally, partners like AirSpace Integration and ATA LLC will support in the management of flight data, integrations with other FAA systems, and supporting the operational flight trails.

The data collected by Xwing will be used to analyze:

  • Response times between an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and autonomous aircraft.
  • How remote operators utilize information-centric services to fly in challenging, high-stake operating environments amid climate crises.
  • How UAS perform when operating in close proximity with other manned and unmanned operations.

About Xwing

Xwing is the first company to introduce autonomous technology on a regional air cargo aircraft. With the goal of meeting growing unmet logistics demand, Xwing’s human-operated software stack seamlessly integrates with existing aircraft to enable regional pilotless flight. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. To learn more, please visit xwing.com. For media inquiries, email xwing@vsc.co.


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Xwing Expands its Commercial Air Cargo Operations to 400 Weekly Flights

Data collected on piloted flights allows the company to improve its technology, train systems and speed up its path to certification

San Francisco – WEBWIRE

Autonomous aviation company Xwing, today announces significant milestones, including the expansion of its commercial cargo operations under FAA CFR Part 135 Air Carrier certificate, the addition of FAA CFR Part 145 certificates and rapid company growth. Over the last twelve months, Xwing has more than tripled its team to 180 employees.

Xwing has completed the acquisition of Martinaire Aviation, a Texas-based FAR Part 135 air cargo carrier with over 40 years of experience throughout the United States. This acquisition comes on the heels of last year’s successful acquisition of AirPac Airlines, another feeder cargo operator based in the Pacific Northwest.

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 U.S., making the company one of the larger Cessna 208B operators in the cargo feeder market. To date, Xwing has completed close to 10,000 flights, carrying 4.9 million pounds of cargo over 1 million miles. These operations have been done within global logistics leader UPS’ (United Parcel Service) regional air cargo network.

As the company continues to build up the set of regulatory approvals needed for autonomous flight operations, in addition to Xwing’s Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate, Xwing now also operates two Part 145 certified aircraft maintenance facilities, significantly expanding its capabilities beyond flight operations to maintenance, inspection and aircraft modification services.

“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,” said Marc Piette, CEO and founder at Xwing. “Using data gathered from our commercial cargo routes, we can continuously optimize and refine our system end to end, and get to the best solution for our customers.”

Xwing began commercial cargo operations in 2020, flying peak season routes out of Phoenix, AZ. 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. These operations now occur at 58 airports across 14 U.S. states, including North Carolina, Texas, Michigan, Oregon and Washington.

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 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. Xwing’s technology can lead to fuel savings through improved routing and optimized ground and air operations. 

From two routes in 2020, expanding to nine routes and adding North Carolina and the Pacific Northwest in 2021, to now operating over 33 daily routes across the U.S., Xwing continues to be a leader in the regional air mobility market. 

These milestones come on the heels of Xwing’s recent placement on Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas list within the transportation category, and the appointment of former FAA executive Earl Lawrence to the company’s c-suite to lead its certification efforts. 

About Xwing

Xwing is the first company to introduce autonomous technology on a regional air cargo aircraft. With the goal of meeting growing unmet logistics demand, Xwing’s human-operated software stack seamlessly integrates with existing aircraft to enable regional pilotless flight. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. To learn more, please visit xwing.com. For media inquiries, email xwing@vsc.co.