To many, the notion that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will one day fly alongside passenger airliners and other aircraft, in fair weather and foul, still seems like science fiction. Yet civil aviation authorities in Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and elsewhere are now finalizing rules under which these operations will take place, possibly as soon as 2010.
Companies in both the U.S. and Europe are forging ahead with technology demonstrations for unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV), but the military has yet to establish exactly what it wants from its future UCAVS. While this question remains unanswered, the development of production UCAVs will be delayed and budgets withheld.
ExxonMobil’s Avitat FBO network has adopted Megadata’s Passur FBO software suite to help track and serve Avitat customers. The Passur Avitat Networking software suite was developed exclusively for the Avitat network. Avitat FBOs will be able to use the Passur system to track customer aircraft, view data on aircraft flying into their airports and look up information about the owners of tracked aircraft.
In accordance with heightened security risks and the United Arab Emirates’ aggressive pursuit of high-tech solutions, the country’s UAV Research and Technology Center is collaborating with two European UAV manufacturers to push ahead with plans for fielding new vehicles for border surveillance and other homeland security and military tasks. In October the first Camcopter S-100 was delivered to the UAE as a result of this work.
Middle East air passengers can soon look forward to using their personal cell phones in flight. Mobile phone technology specialist OnAir of Geneva, Switzerland, will begin tests on the commercial use of mobile phones aboard TAP Portugal Airbus A321s later this year. According to OnAir CEO George Cooper, Gulf state airlines will likely be among the first to offer the service.
Singapore Technologies Aerospace is seeking local or overseas partners for unmanned systems development. “We want to be a world-class niche player in this business, as we have become in the MRO field,” said Dr. Tan Jiak Kwang, the company’s director for advanced systems. Tan spoke at the Unmanned Systems Asia-Pacific 2006 conference. in Singapore on Sunday
Four decades after the first truly stealthy air vehicles were secretly flown in the U.S., the technology has matured and proliferated. Many countries could now design a stealthy, small unmanned aerial vehicle, but since uncompromised stealth capabilities bring penalties, developers and operators are still wrestling with multiple trade-offs.
Northrop Grumman has arrived at FI 2006 with a quiver full of new contracts and program developments that show its growing presence in the international sensor technology and defense electronics market.
Making its debut this week at the Farnborough International show, Raytheon’s Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) system will be delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) in stages over the next year. Comprising five modified Bombardier Global Express business jets and eight ground stations, ASTOR is a major new ground surveillance capability for the UK. Raytheon is now looking for additional customers.
Newer and more capable systems are the key to the future of Chinese weaponry, and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is also looking to developments in electronics to upgrade the many Russian-made weapons platforms it has in inventory.