Having led the way with unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) concept demonstrations, the U.S. Air Force seems to be having second thoughts. Meanwhile, Europe is playing catch-up, but with three entirely separate UCAV demonstrators: the pan-European Neuron, the BAE Raven and the EADS Barracuda. Good technical progress is apparent, but debates about requirements, operational utility and cost are ongoing.
UAVs and drones
NASA’s announcement last month that–effective from the start of FY06 on October 1 this year–it will cancel all further support of U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development has sent a shock wave through the industry.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in civil, non-segregated airspace took another step forward early last month at the unmanned systems trade show at the ParcAberporth research and development center on the west coast of Wales when Thales UK and Elbit Systems of Israel demonstrated their Hermes 450. The flight was the first of a pilotless aircraft weighing more than 330 pounds in non-segregated UK airspace.
Once the exclusive domain of the military and, with few exceptions, flying outside controlled airspace, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now slowly nudging their noses under the civil tent. Already, USAF RQ-4 Global Hawks routinely fly across the U.S.
A new chapter in civil aviation history opened recently when the FAA issued the first airworthiness certificate for a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the General Atomics Altair. But the operating restrictions on the UAV should limit any interference with civil aircraft and ATC.
This month’s 46th International Paris Air Show is already scheduled to feature the world’s largest passenger aircraft and the airliner with the longest range, and if the Ukrainians bring their Antonov An-225, the show will boast the world’s largest aircraft as well.
At least a dozen unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are to be flown at the Unmanned Systems show to be staged at the UK’s ParcAberporth aviation business park on September 7. The event will be Europe’s largest UAV flying demonstration in controlled civil airspace and should be an important benchmark for how pilotless aircraft can coexist safely with manned flights.
Evergreen Helicopters, a subsidiary of Evergreen International in McMinnville, Ore., is laying the groundwork to tap into the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market, according to David Rath, Evergreen Helicopters president.
Honeywell’s business aviation segment recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the TPE331 turboprop at its Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport facility. Since the first of the line entered service in 1965 on the military OV-10 Bronco, the TPE331, along with the TFE731 turbofan, has been a mainstay of the Garrett/AlliedSignal/ Honeywell engine business.
Boeing has flown its Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) technology demonstrator without a safety pilot for the first time.
The modified MD 530F lifted off from a Mesa, Ariz. helipad, hovered briefly and flew a programmed reconnaissance mission around the proving ground. After the 20-minute flight, the aircraft returned to the helipad and landed within six inches of the planned recovery location.
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