The Civil Aviation Authority of the State of Israel (CAAI) in the MOT has certified an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), the Hermes Starliner, a Type Certificate, approving it to fly in all civilian airspace, just like any other civilian airplane. Head of the CAAI, Joel Feldschuh, says this is the first time in the world to provide an UAS an identical certificate to civilian plane. “The certification we granted to the Hermes Starliner is aligned with international activity in this field. This Type Certificate was issued at the end of a fundamental process that we led for six years that included thousands of man hours, dozens of audits, laboratory tests, ground tests, intensive flight tests and thousands of documents under our supervision”.
The certificate complements Hermes’ compliance with NATO standardization for approving UAS for integration in civilian airspaces. Until now, unmanned aerial vehicles were allowed to fly only in military airspaces or designated air corridors. The Type Certificate changes this reality. The Hermes Starliner is equipped with a wingspan of 17 meters and weighing 1.6 tons. It is capable of up to 36 hours of continuous flight at an altitude of up to 25,000 ft. and can carry an additional 450 kg of electro-optical, thermal, radar and other technical payloads.
The Hermes Starliner is based on Elbit’s Hermes 900 UAS, and is integrated with advanced civil aviation technological capabilities such as terrain avoidance warning system, automatic take-off and landing in harsh visibility, redundant avionics, sensors and satellite data links and adverse weather capabilities. Elbit already won contracts to supply the Hermes Starliner to the Swiss Federal Department of Defense and the Canadian Ministry of Transportation.
U.S performed first autonomous helicopter flight
The transition of air forces to unmanned aerial vehicles is in the process of accelerating, and is also expanding to aircrafts that were considered so far as unsuitable for the UAV concept. Recently, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced the completion of an exceptional project: full autonomous flight of the Black Hawk UH-60A helicopter with no crew onboard. The flight was part of the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program. The helicopter completed 30-minutes of uninhabited flight over the U.S. Army installation at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and was operated by the Sikorsky MATRIX™ autonomous flying system.
The US army is in the process of exploring potential use cases for UAS technologies, including for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) helicopter. Lead test pilot at Fort Campbell, Benjamin Williamson, says the technology allows pilots to switch from autonomous to piloted control at any point with “the flip of a switch” in the cockpit. “This will allow for reducing work load in a variety of missions, in degraded weather conditions or in threatened environments. The system will automatically detect dangerous situations for the helicopter or to the execution of the mission – dangers that may lead to accidents and thereby saving crew and soldiers lives”.