In collaboration with the New York unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site, Aurora Flight Sciences recently conducted unmanned flights of its Centaur optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) – the first time a large-scale, fixed-wing aircraft has been flown at any of the six Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-designated UAS test sites, according to the company.
On June 12-15, the company flew the Centaur from Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y., in full collaboration and compliance with Oneida County's Griffiss UAS test site, which is managed by the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR).
‘Having Centaur lead the way in the U.S. as the first large aircraft to fly in one of the FAA-approved test sites is an important milestone for our company, Griffiss and the FAA,’ says Dr. John S. Langford, chairman and CEO of Aurora. “This aircraft is coming into high demand from a range of customers, both military and commercial interests, in the U.S. and abroad. The flights conducted at the Griffiss site enable our company to offer these customers an aircraft that has been at the leading edge of efforts to integrate unmanned aircraft into the U.S. national airspace.
‘Our proven, long-endurance, medium-altitude platforms are ready for action, whether deployed by the military for [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] missions, or in the skies meeting the needs of a wide range of other security, scientific or commercial applications,’ he adds.
Last year, Aurora Flight Sciences launched subsidiary Panoptes Systems Corp., which developed the eBumper4, a sonar-based, obstacle-avoidance system for small UAS.