PAS 2011: Global Observer to fly again before end of year
Aervironment has confirmed that it expects its Global Observer UAS to fly again before the end of the year, despite a crash earlier in the year of the original aircraft.
The UAS was developed under a Advanced Concept/Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (ACTD/JCTD) contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for a system that runs on hydrogen fuel cells, and can fly at altitudes of 55,000 to 65,000 ft for up to seven days carrying a 1,000 lb payload.
The test programme came to an abrupt halt on 1 April when the G0-1 crashed 18 hours into its ninth test flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The crash came at a critical juncture for the programme. Test flights had been scheduled to be completed on 31 March, but Aerovironment had not demonstrated the ability to fly the aircraft for five days non-stop, which was the objective of the flight.
Roy Minson, Aerovironment VP Business Development and Deputy GM UAS, told Shephard that Global Observer would be back in the air by the end of the year. 'We are just working through the safety case with the US Air Force and we are sure that it wasn't a technical problem,' he stated. Ruling out technical issues with the aircraft points in the direction of other factors, including human error.
With the safety case nearly concluded the company is ready to move ahead with the programme. 'We have another Global Observer built and ready at our facility, and we expect to fly it before the end of the year,' Minson concluded.
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