Xwing Expands Cargo Network To Advance Pilot-Free Operations


When autonomous and remotely operated aircraft start flying in the system, it’s virtually certain they’ll be carrying cargo rather than passengers and Xwing has embraced that concept by becoming a major cargo carrier. The startup has created a software package called Superpilot, which has been used on autonomous flights in a Cessna Caravan. The company is now flying thousands of flights a year for UPS using crewed Caravans and just expanded its operations. To further the ultimate goal, every one of the thousands of flights it carries out in a year is gathering data for the Superpilot suite.

“Our commercial cargo operations are key to our certification approach,” Marc Piette, CEO and founder at Xwing, said in a statement. “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. 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.” As daunting as that challenge is, Xwing’s ultimate goal is to use aircraft without onboard pilots to fly passengers.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. I wish X-Wing luck with regard to autonomous flight. They are going to need it. Getting the FAA to sign off on the concept of a fleet of unmanned aircraft flying cargo around the skies sounds like mission impossible to me. We can’t even get the friendly Feds to sign off on relatively mundane issues right now. Still reeling from the MAX/MCAS debacle, I don’t see anyone at the agency willing to sign off on something as cutting edge as this, especially considering the potential for disastrous consequences when (not if) something goes wrong. Drones flying packages around town is one thing, but real airplanes hauling freight, or people, long distances across the country is something else entirely.

  2. So one takeaway is that if you’re a pilot flying for X-Wing, you better be looking for another job, and now.

  3. As long as the software auto-destructs the aircraft if it heads toward any population center, TFR, public water source, government building, or any critical infrastructure, then yea.

      • It falls before reaching any population center, TFR, public water source, government building, or any critical infrastructure by said process and thus is “safer” than the alternative for an errant flight.

  4. I’m not to concerned about any unmanned aircraft flying unless insurance companies express any willingness to insure such aircraft. Having insurance is a pt135 and DOT requirement. So far I have not heard of any.

  5. These guys are as bad as the Green idiots. No insurance company will allow it! You are totally delusional.

  6. Likely we’re close to training the last generation of pilots. If we can have AI driven cars on our highways it’s a no-brainer that we’ll soon see AI piloted aircraft in the NAS. Some my trucker friends are already thinking of their NEXT careers… For certain sure that with the advent of AI flown fighters AI flown freight is inevitable… and soon.