MQ-9B makes first point-to-point flight for an unmanned aircraft in UK airspace

by Gareth Jennings

The SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian is currently flying a series of European demonstrations out of the UK. (Crown Copyright)

The United Kingdom, for the first time, approved a point-to-point flight of an unmanned aircraft in national airspace, enabling a General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9B SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian to fly from Royal Air Force (RAF) Waddington in England to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

The manufacturer announced the milestone on 16 September, noting that the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved the SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian flight on 12 September that was controlled by National Air Traffic Services (NATS).

“The Airspace Co-ordination Notice issued by the CAA for this series of demonstration flights in UK airspace is the largest and most meticulous we have ever produced, so that the airspace integration of SeaGuardian is at the highest level of safety,” Tom Gratton, CAA Airspace Regulator, was quoted as saying. According to GA-ASI vice-president of International Strategic Development Robert Schoeffling, “This successful flight paves the way not only for future operations of Protector in UK airspace, but also for other civil and commercial [unmanned aircraft] flights.”


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AUSA 2021: US Army test pilots fly Defiant tech demonstrator during FLRAA source selection

by Pat Host

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant technology demonstrator as seen on 20 February 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. US Army test pilots have flown the platform during FLRAA source selection to help the team better refine its end product for the service if Sikorsky-Boeing wins the FLRAA procurement. (Janes/Pat Host)

US Army test pilots recently flew the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant technology demonstrator during source selection for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) competition to help the team have a better end product for the service if it wins the procurement.

Chris Downey, Boeing Defense, Space, and Security Future Vertical Lift (FVL) global sales and marketing, told Janes on 14 October that Sikorsky-Boeing is concerned with continuing to gather as much information and data as possible to better validate its Defiant X design and improve its models, tools, and processes. Having the US Army test pilots fly the SB>1 Defiant during source selection also helps the team optimise its software.

Downey said two US Army test pilots flew the SB>1 Defiant in its last two flights, which took place after proposal submission. Sikorsky-Boeing submitted its bid in September.


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New Russian PD-35 turbofan engine commences ground testing

by Nigel Torp Petersen

UEC-Aviadvigatel PD-35 turbofan engine core in testing in October 2021 (United Engine Corporation)

Early-stage static testing has begun on the engine core that will become the new Russian PD-35 turbofan aircraft engine. The engine is intended to have a thrust range of 24 to 40 tonnes (239 kN to 398 kN) and it has potential applications on Russia's future military transport aircraft fleet, as well as commercial aircraft programmes such as the CR929 and the Il-96-400. Original equipment manufacturer UEC-Aviadvigatel announced on 11 October 2021 that assembly of the gas-compressing core of the engine was completed in mid-September at a site near the Russian city of Perm and development had progressed to running the demonstrator at low power to confirm the integrity of the design.


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AUSA 2021: Kaman Air Vehicles launches Kargo heavy-lift autonomous UAV

by Pat Host

A full-scale model of Kaman Air Vehicles' Kargo heavy-lift autonomous quadcopter UAV on display on 13 October 2021 at the AUSA annual convention in Washington, DC. The company unveiled the aircraft at the event. (Janes/Pat Host)

Kaman Air Vehicles unveiled its Kargo unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), an autonomous heavy-lift quadcopter capable of carrying approximately 363 kg payload, with a full-scale model at the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA's) annual convention.

Romin Dasmalchi, Kaman Aerospace senior director of business development and government relations, told Janes on 13 October at AUSA that the aircraft is designed to support future US Army and US Marine Corps (USMC) operating concepts such as Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations that imply austere conditions and forward deployment. Kaman Air Vehicles wants the Kargo to provide the US armed services logistics options so that they are not using expensive aircraft such as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors to fly cheap cargo for short distances.

Dasmalchi said the Kargo will have a cost-per-flight-hour on par with a commercial helicopter that runs a 300 hp engine such as a Robinson R66.


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The United Kingdom, for the first time, approved a point-to-point flight of an unmanned aircraft in ...

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