Social media site Facebook has acquired a UK-based company whose founders helped develop the Zephyr, a solar-powered unmanned aircraft, as part of its “Connectivity Lab” project to more widely distribute Internet access.
Unmanned aerial vehicle
Europe’s first purpose-built center for UAV research activities has opened in Spain. Known as Atlas (air traffic laboratory for advanced unmanned systems), the facility was officially opened on March 21 by the president of Andalucía, Susana Díaz, whose regional government has funded much of the €4.5 million implementation of the project from EU allocations. Additional funding has come from national government, and the site has been developed in close cooperation with potential customers, such as Boeing.
An administrative law judge with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dismissed the $10,000 fine the FAA levied against Raphael Pirker for flying a small unmanned aircraft, casting doubt on the agency’s ability to regulate their commercial use.
The UK Ministry of Defence has finally signed off on the Watchkeeper tactical unmanned air system for the British Army, awarding the system a formal Release to Service. The RTS award brings to an end a process to certificate the Watchkeeper for military service that has dragged on approximately three years longer than originally anticipated.
I have to admit that my interest in drones–or unmanned aircraft systems, as the FAA prefers to call them–has been re-energized by my students at Vaughn College of Aeronautics. Sure, like most aviation enthusiasts, I’m interested in anything that flies and have been a model airplane fan from childhood.
Vertical lift UAV developer CybAero said the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls approved export permits for a €5.5 million ($7.5 million) order a Chinese customer placed for its APID 60 unmanned helicopter, the company’s largest order.
The first formal agreement between a major global avionics manufacturer and a Russian-based aviation solutions provider was enacted via a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Rockwell Collins (Booth No. 8040) and St. Petersburg, Russia-based Transas Aviation.
Donald Shinnamon, Sr., the recipient of the MD Helicopters Law Enforcement Award here at Heli-Expo 2014, credits his father with his interest in both aviation and law enforcement. Though not involved in aviation work, during World War II his father was stationed at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, home of the Naval Test Pilot School, where he acquired his enthusiasm for aviation. After the war, the elder Shinnamon became a police officer in the Baltimore County Police Department.
New Singapore Airshow exhibitor Beijing ZhongHanZhi Technology Co. (ZHZ) is displaying its TD220 unmanned helicopter at Booth U08 in the main exhibition hall. The TD220 is a 660-pound class UAV with coaxial main rotor blades, equipped with the company’s “HeliAP” autopilot. ZHZ says it can fly missions of up to six hours automatically with a 110 pound payload. Among applications are powerline, forestry and oil-pump monitoring and aerial mapping. Tian Gangyin, ZHZ chairman, said the company thus far has 10 customers in China, and 15 more orders.
Israeli defense specialist Rafael (Booth N51) has unveiled a new system to tackle short-range mortar and rocket threats, and close-in air threats such as UAVs. Rather than employing a projectile to destroy incoming threats, the new Iron Beam system uses a high-energy laser (HEL).