Internet-age companies are forging ahead with plans to incorporate small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—better known as drones—in their commercial operations. On August 28, Internet search engine and services company Google revealed that it is developing a drone delivery service and has already tested a prototype aircraft.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
News and issues relating to civil and military unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) of all kinds and sizes, including those used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), combat (unmanned combat air vehicles, or UCAVs), law enforcement, research and other applications. Of particular focus is the FAA's planned integration of UAS into the U.S. national airspace system.
Boeing won a $9.36 million contract modification from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) to refine its concept for a radically improved vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft to the preliminary design review stage. Three other contractors have proposed concepts for the program.
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.
Aurora Flight Sciences told AIN that it is close to securing up to three customers in Europe, plus one in the U.S., for its Centaur optionally piloted aircraft (OPA), which is based on the Diamond DA42 twin-engine tourer. The American company has been marketing the Centaur in the U.S. as a versatile, low-cost airborne sensing platform for two years but only recently expanded the effort to Europe.
The FAA announced that the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site Virginia Polytechnic Institute will manage is cleared to start flying aircraft.
Airlines should not expect to see unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flying regularly in U.S. airspace “anytime soon,” a senior official with the Federal Aviation Administration told pilots August 7. The assurance came amid continuing reports of unauthorized UAS flights near airliners.
Testing the U.S. Army conducted in June proved that equipping an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for an airborne electronic attack role is “technically and tactically feasible.” The service will continue experimenting with the system, although it has no immediate plans to field it on a UAS.
A federal appeals court has dismissed the case a Texas non-profit search and rescue organization brought against the FAA after the agency ordered it to stop using a model aircraft fitted with a camera to assist in searches. Both parties claimed an advantage from the decision.
The U.S. government has nearly completed revising its export controls for aerospace-related products, but it has not resolved how to manage exports of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and components, senior officials said last week at the Farnborough International Airshow.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) conducted the first flight of its Predator XP remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) on June 27 at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground range complex in Arizona. The Predator XP is an unarmed export version of the iconic RPA.
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