German UAV company Wingcopter has taken a significant step toward potential Type Certification with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issuing Special Class Airworthiness Criteria of its Wingcopter 198 delivery drone.
The Weiterstadt-based company revealed the development Wednesday, hailing it as critical to its efforts to obtain type certification of its flagship Wingcopter 198 delivery drone. Though the road to full FAA approval is still long, passing the hurdle of airworthiness recognition is considered by many aeronautic companies to be a major milestone in the process.
The FAA’s Airworthiness Criteria defines technological requirements that must be met to have an aircraft type certified for regular commercial operations in the U.S. Application of the Wingcopter 198 was submitted in March 2020, after which time the company worked closely with the FAA toward both obtaining the airworthiness status, and mapping out the means and timing through which it may attain type certification.
In doing so, the firm drew from its experience operating the Wingcopter 198 as a reliable and safe delivery drone for businesses, as well as organizations mounting humanitarian missions.
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“We are proud to be among the first delivery drone companies worldwide to ever get their Airworthiness Criteria approved by the FAA,” said Wingcopter CEO Tom Plümmer. “This is a very important milestone for us, not only in our Type Certification Process in the U.S., but also for our international expansion efforts and for achieving our vision of building logistical highways in the sky.”
If it obtains full type certification, the Wingcopter 198 can operate commercial drone deliveries and other suitable missions in US airspace above populated zones. The company says it plans on seizing that capability to scale business use of the craft across the US. It also believes its past and ongoing work with the FAA will provide insights permitting it to navigate certification marathons with aviation authorities in other priority markets, including Brazil and Japan.
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Wingcopter says it has operated its 198 delivery drones under stricter pre-certification rules in missions spanning the Arctics and Middle East, and from remote islands in the South Pacific to San Diego Bay. The craft can carry a maximum 6 kg payload up to 100 km at a default cruise speed of 100 km/h.