EASA granted a supplemental type certificate (STC) to Boggi Aeronautics, based in Arceto, Italy, to install the SmartBay sensor suite on the Tecnam P92JS light single-engine airplane. The SmartBay sensors turn the two-seat P92JS into a low-cost aerial reconnaissance platform capable of a variety of missions.
Boggi worked on the P92JS STC with Italian company DigiSky, which manufactures the SmartBay system. SmartBay is also available on the twin-engine Tecnam P2006.
SmartBay can carry three sensors and includes its own mission computer, which can be operated by the pilot. Sensors that can be carried include gyro-stabilized cameras, Lidar (laser scanners), chemical, hyperspectral (for ground analysis), infrared, and others that can be adapted as needed by customers, according to Boggi.
The SmartBay without sensors installed weighs 13 kg (28.6 pounds), including the pylon, battery cables, and displays. Total weight with sensors is up to 22 kg.
Operators can purchase a P92JS with SmartBay already installed, according to Boggi. Retrofitting takes about 12 hours, plus a flight test is required. The pylon is made of carbon-fiber composites with aluminum inserts.
In terms of cost of operation, a SmartBay-equipped P92JS fits between the cost of flying drones and a light helicopter. According to Boggi, flying for 400 hours per year under a five-year amortization scheme, operating costs should not be more than €260 ($280) per hour, about half that of a Robinson R22 flown in Europe. “The cost difference is higher if we compare P92 SmartBay-equipped [aircraft] with more complex helicopters,” the company said.
The P92JS with SmartBay can be flown in any country where EASA regulations prevail, but Boggi can assist with approvals by the FAA and other countries’ regulators. There are three airplanes currently flying with SmartBay in Europe and one in the U.S., flying earth-observation and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.
Other uses for the SmartBay-equipped P92JS include precision farming, corridor mapping, environmental risk monitoring, remote emergency response, and law enforcement.