Xwing acquires Martinaire Aviation, steps up FAA approval effort


Xwing has acquired air cargo carrier, Martinaire Aviation as it increases efforts to gain approval for fully autonomous operations with converted aircraft.

The company, which is working to introduce autonomous systems for regional cargo flights with no pilot onboard, announced the acquisition of the Dallas-based carrier on July 28. This announcement comes shortly after Xwing’s acquisition of Seattle-headquartered AirPac Airlines, another cargo carrier.

The workforce is growing too. The San Francisco-based startup reported that its staff has tripled to more than 180 employees in the past 12 months. Xwing also confirmed that it has received FAA Part 145 certification for two aircraft maintenance facilities in Addison, Texas, and Lansing, Michigan this week.

Xwing completed the world’s first fully autonomous gate-to-gate cargo flight in February 2021. The firm used a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, adapted with Xwing’s “superpilot” autonomous flight system, taxied itself from the gate to the runway, took off, landed, and taxied back to its gate with no human intervention.

While Xwing has yet to get its autonomous flight system FAA-certified for commercial use, it has been operating commercial cargo flights using unmodified and piloted Cessna Caravan airplanes since 2020, when it received the necessary FAA Part 135 air carrier certification through its acquisition of San Antonio Air Charter.

The Xwing is operating its converted Caravan under an experimental certificate for research and development purposes, and those flights are required to have a supervising pilot on board.