This is no ordinary plane.
Its advanced autopilot system can take off, fly, and land an aircraft all without a pilot.
The system is being developed by San Francisco-based start-up Xwing.
Reuters spoke to the Chief Technology Officer, Maxime Gariel.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MAXIME GARIEL, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER OF XWING, SAYING:
"What makes a Xwing technology different from the current state of the art is the level of autonomy. Current aircraft have a lot of automation, which is flying to different waypoints, flying a trajectory. But they're not able to take off and land on their own. They're not able to taxi on their own. They're not able to automatically detect other aircraft and avoid them on their own. So it's being able to have this decision-making capability that stands us out from the competition and the existing state of the art."
The company has been working on its Autoflight System for four years.
Parts of the technology are still being tested and modified, but founder and CEO Marc Piette says it’s a matter of months before the software hits the market.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MARC PIETTE, FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF XWING, SAYING:
“We're at the dawn of a new era in aviation that's driven by autonomy. You know, autonomous flight technology. It's something that we think is going to be as disruptive as the dawn of the jet age and what that did for long distance travel.”
Piette says Xwing is targeting regional cargo delivery, aiming to license their technology to flight operators carrying cargo to smaller airports.
In August, the company received a Part 135 Air Carrier certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. That means it will be conducting interstate, foreign, and overseas transportation, or will carry mail.
With its successful testing, Xwing joins other aviation companies striving to develop the autonomous technology.
European jetmaker Airbus said in June it had completed a two-year test program for its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing project.
Boeing, the world’s largest planemaker, tested its Autonomous Passenger Air Vehicle in 2019.