First Type Certification Application for 1st Class Fixed-Wing Drones Accepted by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

Groundbreaking Achievement: Japan Accepts Application and Approves Wingcopter's Drone as a Foreign Manufacturer for the First Time

March 28, 2024

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Keita Ishii, President & COO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) is pleased to announce that Wingcopter GmbH (Headquarters in Weiterstadt, Germany; Tom Plümmer, CEO; hereinafter "Wingcopter"), a drone development and manufacturing company with which ITOCHU has concluded a capital and business alliance as well as a sales agency agreement, has applied for and received the acceptance of the 1st Class first type certification for a fixed-wing drone under the unmanned aircraft (drone) type certification by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The drone subject to evaluation is Wingcopter's eVTOL-type drone "W198*1," and this marks the first application and acceptance of a foreign company's drone in Japan. The type certification process will commence today.

In Japan, the amendment to the Aviation Act in December 2022 legalized Level 4 (beyond visual line of sight) *2 flights in manned areas, significantly expanding the application range of drones. First type certification ensures the safety and uniformity of the design and manufacturing process for aircraft intended for Level 4 flights in the unmanned aircraft field. When the first type certification is granted, flights equivalent to Level 4 will be accessible.

ITOCHU and Wingcopter conducted a verification experiment in May 2023 for the implementation of medical blood product transportation by drones, the one of the first of its kind in Japan. With medical supervision and cooperation, the experiment aimed to demonstrate the use of fixed-wing drones as an effective logistics means for solving various social issues by verifying the possibility of temperature-controlled transportation of blood products, which has been challenging for conventional multi-copter drones, as well as high-speed and long-distance stable movement achieved through full automation, which has also been considered difficult to achieve, together with quality management.

Through this application, both companies will continue to establish a drone delivery network using the high-performance tilt-rotor*3 drone "W198" and aim to provide services that meet diverse needs and address various social challenges.

  • *1The official name of the drone is Wingcopter 198.
    It has a tilt-rotor mechanism that was developed and manufactured in-house by Wingcopter. The fixed-wing drone is capable of vertical takeoff, landing and hovering, similar to a multicopter. It flies autonomously.
  • *2Level 4 flights (flights beyond visual line of sight in populated areas)
    Unmanned aircraft (drone) flights over populated areas, such as urban centers, without constant visual monitoring. These flights were uniformly banned before Civil Aviation Amendment which took place last December.
  • *3Tilt-rotor
    Tilt-rotor technology enables vertical or short-distance takeoffs and landings by tilting the drone’s rotors (rotating airfoils similar to propellers).

Outline of Wingcopter GmbH

Company Name Wingcopter GmbH
Representative Tom Plümmer
Head office Feldstrasse 16, 64331 Weiterstadt/Hessen, Germany
Established 2017
Capital 33,095EUR
Number of employees Approx. 150

Reference: Drone specifications

Model Wingcopter 198
Max. load 4.5kg at maximum
Wind resistant performance 15m/s average, 20m/s in wind gusts
Cruising speed (standard) 90km/h
Maximum flight distance 110km
Main body (L x W x H) 167cm x 198cm x 66cm
Maximum take-off weight 24.9kg