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AFA 2019: US Air Force seeks to tailor airworthiness process for low cost attritable aircraft

20 September 2019
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The US Air Force believes it could save itself and contractors money by tailoring the airworthiness process for unmanned low-cost attritable aircraft such as the Kratos XQ-58A. As these types of aircraft do not have human pilots and are not designed to last for decades, the service could save money by certifying fewer items. Source: US Air Force

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is interested in tailoring the airworthiness process for low cost attritable aircraft in the class of the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in a way that could save the service and contractors money.

Matt Duquette, AFRL Skyborg team senior engineer, told Jane's on 18 September at the Air Force Association's (AFA's) annual conference that airworthiness is something the lab is trying to modify to be more 'as needed' because there is no human on board and the aircraft is not designed to last for decades as a traditional fixed wing aircraft. Thus, there are fewer items from a safety perspective that need to be certified.

Each compliance item comes with a price tag, said Doug Meador, AFRL Low Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) deputy programme manager. Meador told Jane's on 18 September that the AFRL would save money by only performing the compliance items that make sense. Duquette said this would help accelerate aircraft development and attract more small business into the realm as fewer requirements can bring more innovation and items to fruition because of their lower cost.

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