An offshoot of Alphabet Inc, aka Google’s parent company, is officially the first drone operator to receive FAA approval to start flying as an airline. While that doesn’t mean humans will be flying in drones anytime soon, it is an important step to giving the company the legal authority it needs to start delivering products to customers.
With its new FAA certification in hand, the Alphabet subsidiary, Wing, reportedly plans to begin routine deliveries of small consumer items in two rural communities in Virginia within months, the company said. Wing has been testing its delivery drone delivery system with runs in Australia after beginning testing way back in 2014.
As Bloomberg reports, while plenty of companies have been granted FAA waivers to demonstrate their drones or to make deliveries over short distances, Wing is the first company to be approved as a small craft airline, akin to what smaller airlines receive from the FAA and the Department of Transportation. That means it can start charging customers to make deliveries in the Virginia area and work to expand the service.
The FAA approval process reportedly took months, requiring the company to write “extensive manuals, training routines and a safety hierarchy” just like a traditional airplane manufacturer would have to do. Now that Wing has blazed the trail and made its way to the front of the pack, the FAA approval process for drones should move more quickly, meaning your next burrito or Glossier package or life-saving medicine could be delivered by drone.