WASHINGTON, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded the first air carrier certification to a U.S. drone delivery company.
Google's spinoff company Wing Aviation demonstrated that its operations met the FAA's safety requirements to qualify for an air carrier certificate, according to an FAA statement given to Xinhua.
It paved the way for Wing Aviation to begin commercial package delivery in Blacksburg of Virginia.
FAA said the company is planning to reach out to the local community before it begins food delivery, to gather feedback to inform its future operations.
Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess said that the customers could get "a healthy meal delivered, hot and fresh, in just a few minutes" late at night, which can "make a pretty transformative impact in quality of life."
"This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
In early April, Wing Aviation got a green light for drone deliveries in Canberra, Australia. The company has been conducting thousands of safe flights in Australia over the past several years, according to FAA.
Wing's drone, a hybrid between a helicopter and plane carrying packages in its belly, can lift off vertically and hover above people's yards to put goods down with a tether, showed a product video clip on the company's official website.
The approval FAA granted is for traditional small charter airlines instead of a drone-specific one. Therefore, it allowed the company to charge for delivery services.
Under the current U.S. regulations, hired drone operators have to fly drones within their eyesight while automated flights over longer distances can only be operated for demonstration without payment.
Uber, UPS and FedEx are also applying for go-aheads from federal regulators.