NASA and Xwing to develop autonomous flight processes


Xwing have been awarded a contract by NASA to develop safety procedures for autonomous aviation design and operations. 

Led by NASA’s System-Wide Safety Project (SWS), the three year contract firstly aims to identify risks and evaluate safety arguments related to runway detection and identification for vision-based landing. Secondly, to evaluate aircraft localisation assurance processes and enhance Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Xwing will share flight and ground operations data from their operations, representative algorithms, and expertise on the design of the systems. As well as using this information, NASA will also provide information and tools for the evaluation of algorithms and operational data, safety analysis and assessment, safety management systems, and risk analysis and prognostics.

Misty Davies, NASA System-Wide Safety (SWS) project manager said: “NASA focuses its research and technology transfers to have real impact, and this will help NASA understand the real-world challenges that industry is facing. Emerging aviation relies heavily on advanced automation to ensure safety, and Xwing is working to bring novel, safe aviation opportunities to the American public.”

In early 2021, Xwing demonstrated the first fully-automated gate-to-gate operation of a retrofitted Cessna Caravan. Today, Xwing is also a Part 135 air carrier with unmodified aircraft. A recent fleet expansion means it now operates over 400 weekly flights of cargo operations for UPS.

Jesse Kallman, vice president of Commercialisation & Strategy at Xwing said: “Our team is excited to support this critical work at NASA to ensure autonomous systems are safely able to operate in the NAS. Both the data we provide to NASA and data we receive will enable us each to advance our capabilities and build a more robust safety case for the technology.”

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