BAE Systems trials unmanned flights
Tags: BAE Systems, coastal patrols, Heathrow, jetstream, pilotless, search-and-rescue missions, Stansted
Aerospace company BAE Systems has announced it is trialling pilotless flights in Britain using its Jetstream aircraft.
The company said that unmanned flights could play a role in search-and-rescue operations and also help to detect volcanic ash cloud.
There will be two pilots on board during the test flights to ensure a smooth take-off and landing, but the aircraft will be flown by a computer as soon as it is airborne.
BAE Systems said its Jetstream aircraft have highly sophisticated computer systems that can recognise weather conditions and avoid collisions with other planes. In case of an emergency, the systems can also identify a safe place for the aircraft to land.
BAE Systems spokesman Simon Shrouder said: “Everyone has to be satisfied that this plane can fly safely and land safely.
“Once confidence in the aircraft grows, it could be used for such things as coastal patrols, search-and-rescue missions and checking out possible volcanic ash clouds.”
The company hopes that the trials will convince the Civil Aviation Authority and air traffic control service providers that UAVs (uninhabited air vehicles) can be used safely in British airspace.
Successful trials could even lead to the introduction of unmanned passenger flights in the UK, the company said, although it is likely to take many years before passengers at Heathrow or Stansted airports will be able to board a pilotless flight.
Copyright Press Association 2012