Atlas Center Hosts Beyond Line-of-Sight Unmanned Flight

 - August 20, 2014, 2:22 PM
Testers with Spain's Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies launch the Viewer electric airplane. (Photo: Atlas center)

Spain’s Air Traffic Laboratory for Advanced Systems (Atlas) experimental test center on August 20 hosted the first flight of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) beyond visual line of sight since new rules governing RPAS entered force in that country. Pilots with the Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies flew the Viewer aircraft, a 33-pound mtow electric airplane, more than 8 km (4.9 miles) from the center’s facilities in Villacarrillo and up to 3,300 feet above sea level.

New rules Spain’s Ministry of Development approved in July limit civilian RPAS flights in non-segregated airspace to visual line of sight, within 500 meters of the pilot or control center and up to 400 feet above ground level. The Atlas flight was possible because the center has access to nearly 400 square miles of segregated airspace. Testers used a Viewer airplane equipped with a transponder and coordinated the flight with the Seville area control center operated by Spanish air navigation service provider AENA. The Spanish Aviation Safety Agency had previously approved the flight.

“This event is a very important step for positioning the Spanish aerospace industry as a leader in the field of unmanned aircraft and systems, and it is a demonstration that flights can be performed in Spain with this type of aircraft legally beyond 400 feet high, opening new business and market opportunities for companies in this sector,” the Atlas center said.

The rail-launched Viewer airplane testers flew has a wingspan of 4.8 meters (15.7 feet) and cruising speed of about 40 knots. It carries a 2.5 kg (5.5 pound) payload and has endurance of 90 minutes.