An MQ-1 Predator UAV supported firefighters in their efforts to control the huge California Rim Fire in August-September, according to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI). The company noted that the UAV’s more-than-24-hour endurance offered a “value-added capability” over helicopters, which ground commanders had relied on previously but are required to refuel every two hours.
Unmanned aerial vehicle
Even as French aircrews began training in the U.S. on the Reaper UAS, EADS Cassidian announced that it had received a one-year extension to its support contract for the Harfang UAS that the French air force intends to replace with the American drone. Cassidian also noted that the similar Heron UAS operated by the German air force and supported by the company has logged 15,000 hours over Afghanistan. The Germans are also considering a Reaper buy as a replacement for the Israeli-origin UAVs.
India’s own medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAS has experienced another delay, with first flight now expected toward the end of next year. A senior official from the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) told AIN that the Rustom-2 project has suffered from lack of access to technology for sensors and engines. “Requirements for ISR are huge in India, given threats from the border. However, Hale, micro and nano UAVs require powerful algorithms. That is where we require help,” added V.S.
The first autonomous takeoff and landing of the Sikorsky Autonomous Research Aircraft (Sara)–an S-76 fitted with fly-by-wire controls, sensors and software for unmanned operations–is expected to take place within days, according to program manager Igor Cherepinsky. So far, he told AIN, Sara’s autonomous flights were following a trajectory to and from a hover.
With the first commercial flight of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) now accomplished, at least two other potential certification efforts are under way for unmanned aircraft that would fly at opposite extremes of the airspace if the Federal Aviation Administration approves them.
Two UK airports have joined to create a “National Aeronautical Center” (NAC) to develop, test and demonstrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). West Wales Airport at Aberporth and Newquay Cornwall Airport in southwest England will jointly offer their facilities and runways, along with access to offshore testing areas, to UAS developers.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects that energy company ConocoPhillips will make the first commercial flight of an unmanned aircraft today. Under a restricted category type certification the FAA awarded in July, ConocoPhillips will launch an Insitu ScanEagle from the research vessel Westward Wind in the Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean west of Alaska.
The European Commission released a final report on the integration of civil remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) into European airspace in June. The report’s aim is to achieve initial RPAS airspace integration, beginning with visual line-of-sight operations, in 2016.
Developed by European aviation technical organizations under the collective name ofthe European RPAS Steering Group, the 200-page report covers a wide swath of issues, requirements and plans over its proposed RPAS integration “roadmap,” covering the period 2013 to 2028.
A cellphone video captured the August 24 crash of a small drone into a grandstand at the Virginia Motorsports Park during the park’s recent Great Bull Run event. Four people in the stands received minor injuries. The drone was hovering above the crowd, capturing the event on video. So far, investigators have not traced the person responsible for controlling the aircraft or the reason for the crash.
Two years from the September 2015 deadline the U.S. Congress established to introduce unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) into the nation’s airspace system, airline pilots are engaged in the process of developing standards and practices that UAS operators will follow.