Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
24 Jan 22. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) MQ-8C Fire Scout, the U.S. Navy’s next generation ship-based autonomous helicopter system deployed operationally Dec. 14, 2021. Deployed with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Detachment 5 (HSC-22 DET 5) aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS-5), Fire Scout provides greater organic intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR&T) capabilities for the U.S. Navy.
“This is a significant milestone in the MQ-8C Fire Scout program,” said Capt. Eric Soderberg, U.S. Navy. “The transition from the MQ-8B to the MQ-8C Fire Scout has brought improved sensors and more than doubles the on-station endurance. Advances in Fire Scout’s capabilities further our successful integration of unmanned platforms at sea and the Navy and Marine Corps unmanned campaign plan.”
MQ-8C Fire Scout brings increased speed, endurance and payload capacity to maritime operations. The system provides operators 10+ hours of endurance and range of over 1,000 nautical miles, allowing for adaptable mission sets, including real-time over-the-horizon targeting. When operating with manned aircraft, Fire Scout enables commanders to employ manned assets in a more focused manner.
“Our partnership with the U.S. Navy has been critical in developing Fire Scout’s multi-mission autonomous capabilities which provide greater situational awareness to the joint force,” said Lance Eischeid, director, Fire Scout program, Northrop Grumman. “With the ability to operate from a range of surface ships, MQ-8C Fire Scout is a powerful platform that allows the U.S. Navy to increase the detection and tracking of targets through its onboard sensors and integration with manned assets.”
MQ-8C Fire Scout leverages a Bell 407 commercial aircraft for its airframe, supporting affordability through reduced lifecycle costs, including initial development, supply chain and flight hour reliability. MQ-8C Fire Scout is also equipped with a Leonardo AN/ZPY-8 (Osprey) radar which enables it to detect and automatically track contacts at extremely long ranges, at night and even in stormy weather conditions when visibility is extremely poor.
Designed in San Diego, California and Fort Worth, Texas by a joint Northrop Grumman/Bell team and manufactured in Ozark, Alabama and Moss Point, Mississippi, the MQ-8C achieved initial operational capability in June 2019 and will begin replacing the MQ-8B variant on upcoming deployments.
26 Jan 22. Canadian Coast Guard Conducts Offshore Sea Trials of VTOL UAS. Kongsberg Geospatial announced that it successfully conducted sea trials of the Shield AI V-BAT Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) on behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard, operating from a small cargo vessel far offshore in international waters.
BVLOS endurance and Intelligence gathering trials of the V-BAT UAS were conducted in a variety of sea states and weather conditions
The Canadian Coast Guard is conducting trials of the long-endurance Vertical Take-of and Landing (VTOL) UAS surveillance system for possible deployment on Canadian Coast Guard Vessels under a project funded by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC). The Shield AI V-BAT aircraft was selected due to its unique ability to combine VTOL from the small confines aboard ship with the long endurance of a fixed-wing aircraft while carrying multiple sensors.
Kongsberg Geospatial teamed with Shield AI to deploy the V-BAT VTOL UAS for a 3-day sea trial in international waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The trials tested the capability of the aircraft to provide rapid launch and recovery, long endurance, and confined space take-off and landing from a moving vessel in a variety of weather conditions – both during the day, and at night. In addition to tracking and identifying other ships at long ranges, the flights conducted a variety of simulated missions designed to emulate real-world situations where the Canadian Coast Guard would use the drones. These included locating and tracking dye patches that simulated wreckage or oil spills, and locating life preservers in choppy seas and in a variety of weather conditions.
The V-BAT operators used Kongsberg Geospatial’s IRIS UxS software to safely pilot the aircraft at long ranges from the launch vessel. The IRIS software provides a comprehensive situational awareness picture of the operational airspace, data from a variety of sensors and data feeds – and shows the location of other aircraft and surface ships, as well as the launch vessel and the “ownship”, or drone being operated.
Sensor data feeds from the cameras and sensors carried by the UAS were ingested, at real-time, into the Kongsberg Geospatial Modular ISR Data Analysis and Storage system (MIDAS). The MIDAS system records video and other data from the UAS, and serves as a “mission intelligence coordinator” to view current and historical sensor feeds of the UAS within a temporal and geospatial context to increase sensor utilization effectiveness.
“While the sea conditions were perhaps a little rougher than expected, they were ideal for testing the launch and recovery capabilities of the V-BAT from a small ship under the kind of conditions you might expect during real operations”, said Rex Hayes, a retired US Navy and Coast Guard officer and the Director of Unmanned Systems at Kongsberg Geospatial. “We were also very pleased with the performance of IRIS and the MIDAS system when handling integrated sensor data feeds from extended missions”.
Trials like these are important to the continued health of the industry, according to Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s cofounder and former U.S. Navy SEAL. “We love supporting our allies. It will take strong partnerships – technological, military, and economic – to maintain stability during challenging times. Sharing tech like the V-BAT strengthens strategic relationships and contributes to global stability. Our recent engagement with the Canadian Coast Guard and Kongsberg exemplifies our commitment to ensuring our allies have the cutting-edge technology and products they need!”
This series of endurance trials is the second set of flight trials of the Shield AI V-BAT conducted by the Canadian Coast Guard. The first series of flight trials were conducted at a UAS test range in Oklahoma last year to establish flight characteristics of the aircraft. (Source: UAS VISION)
26 Jan 22. Spain approves Eurodrone participation. Spain has formally approved its participation in the Eurodrone project, joining partners France, Germany, and Italy, which have already signed off on their involvement in developing the European unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The Spanish Council of Ministers gave its consent to the country’s inclusion in the Eurodrone project, also known as the European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) and/or the EuroMALE, on 25 January.
“The Council of Ministers has approved an agreement authorising the acquisition of expenditure commitments charged to future years […] so that the Ministry of Defence [MoD] can carry out carried out the development, production, and support for the entry into service, as well as the logistical support of the EuroMALE RPAS programme,” the council said. (Source: Janes)
24 Jan 22. First Flight for China’s Wing Long 1E MALE UAV. According to pictures published on Chinese social networks, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has conducted a maiden flight with its new Wing Loong-1E, which is an advanced version of the Wing Loong 1, a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed by the Chinese Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.
Citing information provided by AVIC (Aviation Industry Corporation of China), the Wing Loong 1E has new features offering new capabilities than the previous version in terms of range, endurance, efficiency and reliability.
The Wing Loong 1E was fully designed and developed in China by the drone subsidiary of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The new drone has successfully completed its maiden flight on Tuesday, January 20, 2022.
According to our analysis, the design of the Wing Loong 1E seems very similar to the previous version, but the new drone is made using composite materials, according to AVIC information. It has been fully optimize and upgraded to offer new performances. But to date, AVIC has not released technical information on the new Wing Loong 1E.
The Wing Loong 1E design consists of a long fuselage with mid-mounted wings. Its fuselage structure is designed to minimize the radar cross section. It features two vertical tail fins, arranged in a V shape. The drone is fitted with a tri-cycle landing gear, with two main wheels under the fuselage and one single wheel under the nose. The drone is powered by a turbocharged engine, driving a three-bladed propeller, mounted at the rear of the fuselage.
The Wing Loong 1E has undergone some modifications in its design, the front has some change in its aerodynamic design and each wing has now upward-pointing winglets. The use of winglets are intended to improve the efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft by reducing drag.
As for the previous version, the Wing Loong 1E will be able to carry a wide range of weapon systems including laser-guided bombs and missiles to attack and destroy air or ground-based targets.
Using composite materials, we can assume that the new Wing Loong 1E is lighter than the previous version offering longer range and endurance as well as higher efficiency and reliability. (Source: UAS VISION/Army Recognition)
24 Jan 22. UAE bans drone flights following missile and drone attacks. The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Interior (MoI) has banned all drone flights, according to an official Emirates News Agency report of 22 January.
“The Ministry of Interior (MoI) is currently stopping all flying operations for owners, practitioners and enthusiasts of drones, including drones and light sports aircrafts. This encompasses also air and sail spots. This was put in place in coordination with the General Authority for Civil Aviation and in line with the relative guidelines.
According to the report: “The decision came after the misuse spotted recently, not limiting the practice of these sports to the areas identified in the user permits and trespassing into areas where these types of activities are prohibited.”
The move came days after two Indians and a Pakistani national were killed in Abu Dhabi in a drone and missile attack claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Earlier today (January 24), the news agency announced UAS Ministry of Defence air defence forces “had intercepted and destroyed two ballistic missiles targeting the UAE, which were fired by the Houthi terrorist militia.”
“The ministry confirmed that there were no casualties resulting from the attack, as the fragments of the ballistic missiles fell in different areas around the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.”
These attacks follow recent initiatives in the UAE to extend the use of drones and pave the way for autonomous air passenger vehicle operations.
On January 12, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced it had held the first legal forum to review the rules and regulations governing operations for passenger transport autonomous air vehicles. This preliminary step aims to chart out suitable structures and develop rules and regulations required for the operation of this ultra-advanced mode of future transportation.
“Legislations regulating the operation of such drones are critical to maintaining the development process and envisioning the future. Enacting such laws aims to build an integrated legislative structure capable of supporting Dubai’s sustainable development, technology advancement, and the use of artificial intelligence in the infrastructure. Dubai has embarked on a new phase in the journey towards the smart city marked using artificial intelligence onboard drones,” said Shehab Bu Shehab, Director of the Legal Department, Strategy and Corporate Governance Sector, RTA.
“Enacting suitable legislation for drone’s operation focuses on several key aspects. The process is extremely important as drones constitute an extremely high-risk factor to the air traffic of conventional planes if left without legislation and legal controls. Consideration is also given to the flying environment of drones, licensing conditions, operation controls, and the associated responsibilities in this field,” he added.
According to the news agency, the forum discussed three main topics related to the registration procedures, operation controls and liability for damage caused by drones. In this regard, participants cited the US and French models. The forum also discussed the operational obligations on the operator (pilot), controller and crew members of the autonomous aircraft. Other topics discussed included adherence to safety rules, safety distance and property protection. When determining heights and the horizontal dimension, RTA shall give due consideration to specifying the safety distance sufficient to protect individuals, properties, civil and military aircrafts, installations, buildings and other unmanned aircrafts from a collision.
For more information https://www.wam.ae/en/details/1395303013818; https://www.wam.ae/en/details/1395303013818 (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
19 Jan 22. Sweden declares ‘national special event’ following drone incursions over nuclear power plants. Police in Sweden have confirmed a new drone sighting near the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant. This comes a day after the Swedish Security Service announced it was taking over the investigation of a number of earlier reported drone incursions into the airspace near that plant, as well as around two other nuclear facilities elsewhere in the country, says Interpol. The incidents have now collectively been categorized as a “national special event,” underscoring the concerns that Swedish authorities have about the intentions of the drones’ operators, who remain unknown. They have come amid a spate of additional drone sightings in the country near various sensitive sites, including government buildings and airports. According to the news source DroneDJ: “The Swedish Police Authority and the Coast Guard are now investigating the Stockholm archipelago to determine if the aircraft could have come from the sea…The illegal drones that were observed on Monday are being widely described as military-style with large wings at least two meters in width.” The report continues: “These drone sightings come at a time of increased military alert in Sweden. The country’s military has recently started patrolling the main town on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland amid increased tensions between NATO and Russia over the Russian military build-up near the borders of Ukraine.” For more information visit: www.interpol.com, www.drondj.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
19 Jan 22. Department 13 supplies its Blackbird security drones to another critical infrastructure entity in Australia. Drone detection and de-confliction company Department 13 reports the start of work with another national critical infrastructure organisation in Australia, to enable the safe and controlled use of autonomous drone capabilities. According to a Department 13 press release, the company is integrating its drone technology into the site’s current operations to improve safety and security.
Department 13 is deploying Nightingale Security Blackbird drones at the site to provide self-sufficient aerial capability. The technology can be deployed anywhere in Australia and be operated by Department 13’s in-house 24/7 Remote Operations Centre (ROC) based in Canberra.
Department 13 will help plan and manage all mandatory compliance work required by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations at the site. To ensure complete due diligence, Department 13 will conduct comprehensive assessments of ground and air risks pertinent to the site’s operation areas, and de-conflict surrounding airspaces by engaging with nearby stakeholders and take into consideration any of their current air management arrangements. Custom operating procedures will be produced, and workshops held with the end users and CASA to ensure safety and compliance requirements are clearly aligned and achieved.
Department 13 CEO Lee Croft said: “This is an incredibly exciting application of our technology. Not only are we advancing the clients unique security and safety requirements to strategically protect the sites critical infrastructure, people, and IP – we’re developing new ways for the drones to also assist the organisation on a broader level with integral autonomous duties and data collection that can scheduled to occur as they please. It’s making the drones multi-task and be incredibly effective and efficient in their roles and responsibilities at the site. In turn it’s allowing the boots on the ground to refocus their time and efforts to more important matters.”
Department 13 has a series of critical national infrastructure organisations projects rolling out in 2022. For more information visit: www.department13.com (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
21 Jan 22. AFWERX Agility Prime Completes First USAF-Piloted Flight of an eVTOL Aircraft with Partner Kitty Hawk. The AFWERX Agility Prime program took another step forward in December with the first government remotely piloted flight of an electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Capt. Terrence McKenna, an Air Force Reserve pilot with the 370th Flight Test Squadron and the Test and Experimentation Lead for AFWERX Agility Prime, participated in remote pilot in control (rPIC) training on the Heaviside aircraft at the Kitty Hawk Corporation’s facility in Palo Alto, California from Dec. 13-17, 2021.
The training culminated in the first government remote piloted flight of an electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft when he successfully flew the Heaviside via the Buddy Box System. This first Airman flight demonstrated another key milestone in the collaboration.
Kitty Hawk, in partnership with Agility Prime, is evaluating a training syllabus for their unmanned eVTOL aircraft, the Heaviside. McKenna’s over 15 years of expertise piloting manned aircraft such as the C-5 and the T-38, as well as designing, developing, and testing manned and small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) as a civilian engineer, assisted Kitty Hawk’s team of engineers in refining both their product and their training procedures.
Kitty Hawk: Building on the Wright Brothers’ Legacy
Kitty Hawk Corporation was founded in 2010 by Sebastian Thrun and is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page. Their series of Heaviside aircraft are just several in a line of over 20 various eVTOL prototypes. Kitty Hawk is headquartered in Palo Alto, California and conducts much of its testing there. In July 2021, the USAF granted Kitty Hawk airworthiness approval, enabling the company to take advantage of additional testing opportunities through a partnership with Agility Prime.
Josh Lane, a Flight Test Engineer (FTE) for Agility Prime, began working with Kitty Hawk in March 2021 and has collaborated with Kitty Hawk to develop test plans supporting their prototype testing and goals to commercialization.
Focusing on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revised Part 23, the safety standards and type certification requirements for small aircraft, and other potentially relevant parts of the Code of Federal Regulations, eVTOL companies like Kitty Hawk gained a greater understanding of the requirements they would have to comply with in order to gain type certification. However, Lane explained that the road to certification for eVTOLs is an ongoing, collaborative process.
“These are new designs that don’t fit the FAA mold, and there’s not a 100 percent fit in some of these companies’ cases, so there’s a lot of engagement going on getting this path to a certified FAA aircraft,” Lane said. “They’re using baseline Parts and working with the FAA to determine what that certification basis is and what areas to be adjusted and addressed.”
McKenna concurred, saying, “Agility Prime is figuring out how we approach training for these types of aircraft. This is a whole new ballpark.”
The Heaviside Aircraft
Named for the English engineer, physicist, and mathematician Oliver Heaviside, the Heaviside is Kitty Hawk’s current flying model. The company has worked through several iterations of this vehicle and are in the planning stages for the next.
The Heaviside was first deployed in 2019 after nearly a decade of development. This aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight is approximately 880 pounds, allowing for a passenger up to about 176 pounds. Heaviside can travel at speeds of roughly 180 miles per hour, but most significantly, it remains quiet: only about 35 decibels at 1,500 feet above ground level, which is slightly louder than a whisper and about 100 times quieter than a helicopter. Additionally, Heaviside has demonstrated 237 transitions between hover and forward flight, as well as a range of 100 miles on a single charge.
Heaviside takes advantage of several advanced technologies, such as Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), as this aircraft has eight fully electric propellers. Additionally, Lane explains that Kitty Hawk has refined its use of automated flight capabilities through its Ground Control Station (GCS); engineers can upload a flight plan, telling the vehicle to fly to certain locations, and the Heaviside can perform the entire flight profile without human intervention.
However, a training feature of the Heaviside is the Buddy Box setup, which is a secondary remote controller wired to a primary controller. This system is intended for the use of an instructor and a student performing the duties of an external pilot in manual flight mode; the trainee handles and operates the aircraft while the instructor provides supervision and support.
The Buddy Box system works much like a driver’s education car: the driving instructor is in the passenger seat and allows the student to manually operate the vehicle, but is ultimately in full control and able to brake if necessary. Likewise, for a Buddy Box setup, the instructor can override any direction that the remote pilot in command (rPIC) gives the aircraft from the primary controller.
The Heaviside and future models will not rely on an external pilot for flight operations, but utilizing this training method now affords the opportunity for more immediate and qualitative feedback on the aircraft, while also building out a training syllabus for the GCS operator.
Training with Captain Terrence McKenna
Though the current training plan for the Heaviside includes a five-day familiarization course and a 12-day rPIC qualification course, McKenna participated in elements of only the familiarization course.
Kitty Hawk utilizes techniques such as Scenario-Based Training (SBT), which is derived from the FAA’s Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) and places the student in lifelike situations in order to complete each lesson objective. Additionally, Kitty Hawk employs Learner-Centered Grading, allowing students to assess their own performance in open conversation with their instructor.
Agility Prime chose McKenna to participate in this training because he fulfilled Kitty Hawk’s trainee prerequisites, which include possessing either a military pilot rating or an FAA Part 107 and 61 certificate. Through a building-block approach, students must also demonstrate proficiency in flying smaller remote control (RC) aircraft, such as fixed-wing aircraft and quadcopter, before graduating to the Heaviside.
During the week in California, McKenna primarily concentrated on the duties of the external pilot, flying in manual mode, rather than automated flight and operating the GCS. Days 1 and 2 focused on ground academics, including simulation training, preflight checklists, and exposure to the Heaviside’s GCS. Inclement weather kept the aircraft grounded, but McKenna reported a productive day of reviewing operations and discussing syllabus development.
Then, on Day 3, after completing several flights on smaller RC aircraft, McKenna successfully piloted the first USAF flight of an Agility Prime sponsored vehicle, navigating the Heaviside through the sky as the External Pilot at Kitty Hawk’s test site. By the end of the day, McKenna had conducted 3 successful flights, focusing on vertical maneuvers, takeoff and landing, manipulation on all axes, auto-hover, and manual flight.
McKenna described that operating as the External Pilot allows pilots to get a feel for what the aircraft is capable of as it moves through the sky.
“It’s a different paradigm for operating the aircraft,” McKenna said. “A crucial thing that the RC controller allows you to do that a completely unmanned or a completely ground-controlled station based approach does not is [gain] that intuition about the flight characteristics of the aircraft that are so important [for operational employment].”
Days 4 and 5 concluded the week by training McKenna on fixed-wing flight, outbound and inbound transitions to vertical flight, and flying full profiles. McKenna reported enthusiastic satisfaction with the tested training methods from Agility Prime, AETC Det 62, and Kitty Hawk. I feel very confident in the training [including] pre-study, ground academics, simulation work, and surrogate flights to get us to this point,”
Syllabus Development in Partnership with AETC’s Detachment 62
While McKenna indeed learned to remotely pilot the Heaviside, a crucial objective of the weeklong exercise was to evaluate and improve the training plan itself for future operations.
“The main objective is to help collaboratively develop syllabi for these platforms with Kitty Hawk and our AETC detachment [Det 62],” McKenna said.
To monitor and evaluate McKenna’s training process, the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) sent out Det 62 personnel to lend their experience with developing flight training plans. The Det 62 team worked closely with Kitty Hawk and the Agility Prime test team to draft an initial syllabus for McKenna for test and training. The team coordinated with Kitty Hawk’s analysts, as well as Agility Prime, to observe, gather data, review training processes, and conduct detailed debriefs along the way. Moreover, Brittney Tough, Kitty Hawk’s Senior Flight Training Manager, also brought extensive knowledge and experience to the table and served as an asset to government flight test teams.
“There’s an opportunity between the military and the civilians to learn from each other on good practices and approaches to training plan development,” Lane said. “I’m certain that there’s going to be some learning going in both directions.”
Looking forward to the potential military utility of the Heaviside, Lane expressed the vitality of the AETC’s presence at and contribution to the project.
“It’s huge that AETC sent out this detachment, and they’re doing this early work to lower risk and pave the path for integrating one or more of these companies’ systems into military use, and trying to make sure that’s as seamless as possible,” Lane said.
Lane and McKenna both emphasized the importance of Agility Prime’s early involvement and cooperation with industry in order to accelerate the development of the eVTOL market.
“There’s three legs to the stool: training, the aircraft itself, and the logistics to support it,” Lane explained. “The typical goal is to have your training system in place, so that when you field a system, you have people that are ready to use it.”
McKenna spoke to the success of Air Force early involvement through Agility Prime with eVTOL companies like Kitty Hawk.
“That interaction is paying dividends, and it’s continuing to grow,” he said. “Firsthand, I’ve seen that interaction prove fruitful on both ends.”
The first USAF-piloted flight of an eVTOL builds on recent highlights and milestones in the Agility Prime program. On Nov. 10, 2021, Kitty Hawk successfully completed its first beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight during the Ohio Advanced Air Mobility Showcase, organized by FlyOhio, at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“The Air Force has been a strong partner for us as we bring eVTOLs closer to being ready for human flight,” said Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Kitty Hawk. “In Ohio, we hit an important milestone making us the first UAM provider to fly a remotely-piloted aircraft BVLOS in a non-restricted air space.”
Using SkyVision, a ground-based detect-and-avoid system developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Kitty Hawk safely maneuvered Heaviside among other manned flight traffic.
“The Heaviside BVLOS testing provides an excellent example of Agility Prime’s aim to partner with industry and provide access to key government test resources, such as SkyVision, and [this] expertise continues to help advance the commercial eVTOL industry,” said Col. Nathan Diller, AFWERX director.
Heaviside’s Goals and Ecosystem Impact
The Heaviside’s utility extends into both the commercial and military worlds. Kitty Hawk hopes to provide a commercial air taxi service, but their eVTOL presents a multitude of opportunities for both civilian and government use.
Ultimately, Kitty Hawk hopes to lower costs with their vehicle, making aerial ridesharing more accessible and affordable to the general population.
McKenna noted that potential military and industry use cases largely overlap for the Heaviside: the aircraft could transport injured personnel, evacuate people from hostile territories, deliver cargo or first aid, make emergency medical services more accessible in rural areas or congested cities, and assist with firefighting or search and rescue operations, among many other potential scenarios.
“What we’re trying to do is develop a training pipeline in the Air Force to understand these types of aircraft,” McKenna said. “If we can get a joint Air Force-industry experimentation team, we can now open the aperture on engagements for these types of aircraft dramatically.”
Regardless of how these vehicles are put to use post-certification, Lane drew attention to the practicality of implementing eVTOL aircraft into society. Though Prime focuses on how the Heaviside and its competitors affect the National Airspace System (NAS), new eVTOL technology will impact the entire aviation ecosystem.
“Most simplistically, it’s more than just aircraft; it’s these airsystems and the entire ecosystem that they will fly in and that need to support them,” Lane said. “There’s research and testing activity going on to develop, enhance, and bolster the National Airspace System (NAS) so that we can start incorporating these new capabilities.”
Overall, both McKenna and Lane praised the teamwork necessary to achieve this milestone flight.
“We’re establishing the interaction and the processes to make sure everything is vetted and approved and done in a safe manner,” McKenna said. “It’s a great way to accelerate innovation, supporting industry and keeping up with them. It’s been a great team effort, and I’m excited about how it came together.” (Source: UAS VISION)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.