Autonomous air cargo company delivers COVID-19 vaccine
Autonomous air cargo company Xwing just announced that it successfully completed a delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in the US. It’s a big milestone and a splashy headline for the company and for the burgeoning autonomous cargo sector.
The FAA granted approval for the operation in November. The flights do have a pilot onboard. Xwing uses a human-operated software stack that seamlessly integrates with existing aircraft to enable regional pilotless flights. It’s part of a growing effort to make flight more accessible and to reduce training burdens on pilots, who currently have to be trained specifically on every kind of plane they fly.
“The US has reached a huge milestone in developing the vaccines, but now the challenge remains in broadly distributing those doses across the country quickly and efficiently. At Xwing, we’re honored to have the opportunity to be a part of this operation by using our cargo planes to deliver thousands of vaccines to some of the locations that need it most.”
The delivery to Holbrook, AZ, is part of a larger nationwide logistics operation to bring Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines to the hard-hit and largest Indian Reservation in the United States, the Navajo Nation. It’s a tricky problem because Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has a limited shelf-life. That makes express air cargo operations critical.