Wingcopter and ITOCHU gearing up for drone delivery

First time a foreign drone is accepted for type certification in Japan. Image: Wingcopter

Long-time business partner and investor in Wingcopter, ITOCHU Corporation, is working together with Wingcopter to begin the type certification process for the Wingcopter 198 in Japan. Wingcopter is the first foreign drone company to be accepted for type certification under the unmanned aircraft class-1 type certification by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, for its fixed-wing drone. Once certified, this will enable the start of commercial BVLOS operations in populated areas. The two companies already premiered a positive verification experiment back in MAY23, when piloting medical blood product transportation in Japan. Now, many more Proofs of Concept will be carried out with special permission until Wingcopter receives its type certification. Once issued, Wingcopter will be authorized to conduct flights equivalent to Level 4 (I.e.: Flights beyond visual line of sight [BVLOS] in populated areas), giving it much greater commercial versatility – a highly useful permit, given both Japan’s geography (many islands and secluded regions) and demography (an aging population). Also, Wingcopter together with ITOCHU would be among the first to establish commercial BVLOS operations in Japan. “ITOCHU and Wingcopter aim to use the Wingcopter 198 to establish drone delivery networks and services that can provide an air bridge to overcome various social challenges by transporting vital and urgently needed goods quickly and environmentally friendly over many kilometers and above challenging terrain,” the release states.

Florian-Michael Adolf, Head of Certification at Wingcopter, announced: “This milestone represents significant progress towards realizing commercial drone delivery in Japan and beyond. At Wingcopter, we are striving for type certification, as it underscores our commitment to safety of our product, as well as the diligence and professionalism of our entire team. We would like to thank our partners at ITOCHU for supporting us in this process with their extensive knowledge, network, and resources.

Masaharu Sato, Deputy General Manager, Aerospace Department at ITOCHU Corporation, stated: “We see great potential in Wingcopter’s delivery drone to make everybody’s life better and are delighted with the promising progress in realizing this value. It is our honor to collaborate with the dedicated professionals at Wingcopter, led by the management team around Tom, Jonathan and Ansgar. We look forward to continuing this exciting journey together.”

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