XWing selected to join FAA’s COSTA programme


Xwing is participating in the FAA’s Crosscutting Operations Strategy and Technical Assessment (COSTA) project, with support from NASA. 

The COSTA project looks at the management of large commercial UAS and general aviation when transiting complex operating environments, such as Fire Traffic Areas (FTAs) during wildfire events.

Current methods involve dynamic flight operations that primarily require manual coordination among helicopters, small drones, large drones, and manned aircraft to safely and simultaneously drop water/fire suppression in a small area. The organisations want to integrate UAS and UTM-based information services to improve disaster response efficiency.

“This project will provide us with a more holistic view on how to best integrate large UAS in the existing National Airspace System” said CEO of Xwing, Marc Piette. “Leveraging UAS, we have the potential to make everything from wildfire fighting to oceanic operations more efficient and safe. We believe the data that we collect from these operations will be essential to helping the FAA and NASA bring unmanned flights to more types of operations in the aviation industry.”

As part of the effort, the FAA and its partners at Xwing and the Alaska Center for UAS Integration are evaluating information-centric approaches to improve management of traffic near FTAs.

The flight operations for this project will take place in Northern California and will leverage Xwing’s operational autonomous flight technology, deployed on its Cessna Caravan, with a safety pilot onboard for the missions. 

The data collected by Xwing will be used to analyse: 

  • Response times between an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and autonomous aircraft
  • How remote operators utilise information-centric services to fly in challenging, high-stake operating environments amid climate crises
  • How UAS perform when operating in close proximity with other manned and unmanned operations.

The project is underway and runs through to April 2023.