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Google’s Wing Aviation is the First Drone Company to Gain FAA Approval

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

An offshoot of Alphabet Inc.’s Google has become the first drone operator to receive government approval as an airline, an important step that gives it the legal authority to begin dropping products to actual customers. The subsidiary called Wing Aviation, now has the same certifications that smaller airlines receive from the U.S. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the Department of Transportation (DoT). It plans to begin routine deliveries of small consumer items in two rural communities in Virginia within the next few months. Current drone regulations generally do not permit flights over crowds and beyond line of sight, limiting where Wing can initially operate. However, these approvals signed by the FAA give Wing the ability to charge for deliveries of client goods in Virginia and apply for permission to expand to other regions. Other drone companies applying for FAA approvals should be able to move more quickly now that the agency and Wing have worked through the issues. Chinese company DJI is currently the clear global leader in Drones with a very large global market share in both commercial and retail drone markets. Current rules prevent a company which is not majority owned by U.S. citizens from gaining the approval though, effectively shutting them out of this market. The path to widespread drone deliveries still has a few hurdles to overcome particularly in dense urban areas – these include noise pollution, privacy issues and the safety of people on the ground.

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