Surrogate UAV readies for maiden flight
BAE Systems has announced that its Jetstream surrogate UAV aircraft is undergoing a series of flight trials in preparation for its maiden flight in UK shared airspace later this year.
The aircraft, known as ‘The flying test bed’, is able to fly in ‘Uninhabited Air Vehicle’ mode, and will conduct the flight using Instrument Flight Rules under air traffic control.
BAE Systems said that trials taking place this month include the world’s first use of autonomous, vision-based weather-avoidance routing and the first UK surrogate flight of a fully functional visual sense-and-avoid system which includes collision avoidance tests using a second aircraft. This trial will begin to demonstrate to regulators such as the Civil Air Authority and air traffic control service providers the progress made towards achieving the safe use of UAVs in UK airspace.
The new technology is part of a ‘suite of innovations’ being brought together for the first time as a UK industry-led programme known as ASTRAEA (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment); a UK industry-led consortium focusing on the technologies, systems, facilities, procedures and regulations that will allow autonomous vehicles to operate safely and routinely in civil airspace over the UK.
Over the coming months the ASTRAEA system on-board the Jetstream will be put through its paces, in a series of at least 20 flight tests over the Irish Sea and through UK airspace.
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