Textron Systems Unmanned Systems says it has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to start operations of the Aerosonde small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP).
Through the Certificate of Authorization, MAAP – which is led by Virginia Tech and includes academic, government and industry partners from organizations in Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey – will support Aerosonde system operations near Blackstone, Va.
With an emphasis on enabling UAS integration into national airspace, flights will contribute to proving the agricultural and environmental applications of unmanned systems. Operations will also develop safety, operations and training protocols between MAAP, the local airspace authority and Textron Systems to ensure safe, efficient unmanned flight operations.
‘We help companies test their aircraft in compliance with FAA regulations,’ says Rose Mooney, executive director of MAAP, which is headquartered in the Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech, one of the six UAS test sites. ‘This process of safely integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace is going to lead to a thriving new industry in the United States.’
The Aerosonde sUAS, which incorporates the purpose-built Lycoming EL-005 engine, has multi-mission flexibility for a wide variety of applications. The Aerosonde system can be equipped with a range of payloads, including advanced electro-optic/infrared payloads for day-and-night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as communications relay and others in a single flight, the company explains.