SAN FRANCISCO, CA — April 15, 2021 — Xwing, the company pioneering autonomy for aviation, today announced that it has raised $40 million in funding at a $400 million valuation. Led by Blackhorn Ventures, with participation from ACME Capital, Loup Ventures, R7 Partners, Eniac Ventures, Alven Capital and Array Ventures, the new round brings the company’s total capital raised to $55 million, and will be used to scale its innovation and team.
The company has completed the world’s first fully autonomous gate-to-gate demonstration of a commercial cargo aircraft that saw a Cessna Grand Caravan 208B leave the gate, taxi, take-off, land and return to the gate entirely on its own. The flight took place in February 2021 and was remotely monitored from the company’s mission control center in Concord, California. All air traffic control interactions were done from the ground.
“Xwing’s world-class team combines a uniquely clear vision, pragmatic approach, and a speed of execution, to move this technology forward.” said Trevor Zimmerman, Managing Partner and co-founder at Blackhorn Ventures. “Already trusted by leaders like NASA and working closely with the FAA, Xwing is leading the future of autonomous air transport, in cargo and beyond.”
From improved safety to reduced operational costs, autonomous technology has the potential to create a more efficient future of flight. Xwing’s software stack seamlessly integrates with existing flight hardware to transform any existing aircraft into an unmanned vehicle. With Xwing’s proprietary and patented technology, the aviation industry can leverage its extensive resources to scale pilotless operations worldwide.
“Over the past year, our team has made significant advancements in extending and refining our AutoFlight system to seamlessly integrate ground taxiing, take-offs, landings and flight operations, all supervised from our mission control center via redundant data links,” said Marc Piette, CEO and founder of Xwing.
“Additionally, our piloted commercial cargo operations have been delivering critical supplies including COVID-19 vaccines, to remote communities since December 2020. This latest funding accelerates our time to market for this transformational technology.”
This news comes at a time of increased focus as the airline industry recovers from the pandemic’s effects and sees an even more significant pilot shortage. New reports show a global gap of 34,000 open pilot positions by 2025. With the rise in e-commerce sales set to top $4.2 trillion, the success of e-commerce is inherently dependent on the efficiency of the air cargo industry. Together with major national logistics partners, Xwing plans to leverage its technology for e-commerce logistics, enabling greater accessibility to small airports and more efficient cargo transportation.
To support its commercial growth and rollout of technology with customers, Xwing has brought on Jesse Kallman as Vice President of Commercialization and Strategy. Kallman, an unmanned systems industry veteran and former Airbus executive, brings over a decade of aviation experience. He most recently led Airbus’s North American satellite and geospatial technology business, which leveraged unmanned and space-based technologies. Prior, he led the scaling of one of Silicon Valley’s leading unmanned systems startups, and held a key role at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the development of their unmanned systems policy.
On the technical side, Xwing continues to bring together industry leading talent in unmanned and optionally piloted aircraft. It recently added Keith Allen, the former Principal Systems Engineer at Collins Aerospace and Chief Engineer for flight controls on the award winning AACUS (Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System) UH-1 “Huey” helicopter program and Aurora’s very long endurance, low cost, 11,000 pound Orion UAV. Since launching in May 2020, after four years in stealth, the company has successfully completed non-commercial flight demonstrations of the first fully autonomous air cargo aircraft. In response to the changing needs of small and rural community populations throughout the pandemic, the company delivered an 800lb cargo delivery of PPE and school supplies to the Navajo Nation. Most recently, Xwing partnered with one of the largest logistics companies to transport COVID-19 vaccines. Last month, the company’s innovations earned it recognition from Fast Company as one of the Most Innovative Companies in Transportation in 2021.