Aurora flies first large UAS at New York test site

By Emily Aasand | June 25, 2015

Aurora Flight Sciences has successfully flown its Centaur optionally piloted aircraft in multiple unmanned flights from Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York. The flights marked the first time any large scale, fixed wing aircraft has flown at either of six U.S. Federal Aviation Administration-designated unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites in the United States.

“Having Centaur lead the way in the U.S. as the first large aircraft to fly in one of the FAA-approved test sites is an important milestone for our company, Griffiss, and the FAA,” said John Langford, chairman and CEO of Aurora. “This aircraft is coming into high demand from a range of customers, both military and commercial interests, in the U.S. and abroad. The flights conducted at the Griffiss site enable our company to offer these customers an aircraft that has been at the leading edge of efforts to integrate unmanned aircraft into the U.S. national airspace.”

Aurora’s Centaur is a flexible and cost-effective solution to various military and commercial unmanned aircraft requirements. The Centaur provides an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform with vast range, high efficiency, and an extremely low life cycle cost for many defense, intelligence, law enforcement or science related missions, the company said.

“Global interest in the Centaur has increased dramatically in recent months,” said Langford. “And a number of customers have expressed interest in the one-two punch of combining Centaur’s medium altitude, long-endurance capability with unique expertise acquired on other Aurora unmanned aircraft programs.”

The UAS platform has a 44 foot wingspan, 28 foot length, a maximum payload capacity of nearly 800 pounds and a flight time of up to 24 hours.

“Our proven long-endurance, medium altitude platforms are ready for action, whether deployed by the military for ISR missions or in the skies meeting the needs of a wide range of other security, scientific or commercial applications,” said Langford.

The Giffiss International Airport UAS test site went operational in August 2014. It is teamed with the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, a New York nonprofit coalition of more than 40 private and public entities and academic institutions. NUAIR operates and manages UAS test sites in New York and Massachusetts. It’s designed to evaluate methods for scouting agricultural fields using different types of sensors, including visual, thermal and multispectral equipment. The research will enhance current methods of monitoring crops and provide additional information for continuing field research efforts.



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