Autonomous aviation company Xwing has started the process to certify its Superpilot system so it can be used to fly uncrewed commercial cargo aircraft in the USA.
The company has submitted a Project Specific Certification Plan (PSCP) to regulator the FAA for a standard category certification project for a large Uncrewed Aircraft System.
The PSCP and project designation from the FAA formally starts the regulatory approval process for Xwing to run uncrewed commercial cargo flights and is the first time the FAA has assigned resources to an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for a Standard Category airworthiness certificate.
Superpilot consists of two sensor pods equipped with electro-optical and infrared cameras that are retrofitted to aircraft to enable autonomous flight. The system uses AI and machine learning to see runways and other aircraft so they can autonomously take-off and land as well as detect and avoid during flight.
The first aircraft to receive the modification is the Cessna Caravan and Xwing has been testing Superpilot using its Cessna Caravan test airplane. Once certified the company plans to fit the system to its fleet of 34 Cessnas and operate them remotely, the first time this will have been achieved in the world.
Although focused on air cargo operations, Superpilot will be benchmarked against the current aviation safety standards for passenger aircraft. The company plans to use Superpilot on passenger aircraft once demonstrated with cargo ones.
Earl Lawrence, chief compliance and quality officer at Xwing said, “We are leading the way for aviation automation with a pragmatic approach to compliance and safety.
“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.”
Xwing has been operating as air cargo carrier since 2021, when it bought Martinaire Aviation, a Texas, USA-based carrier in July. It also acquired Seattle-headquartered cargo operator AirPac Airlines last year.
According to Xwing its Superpilot system has the potential to make improve flight safety, reduce operational costs and expand the capability of air cargo carriers so they can serve more remote and rural communities.