LONDON — Italian business aircraft manufacturer Piaggio Aero has furthered the flight test regime of its medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) derivative of the P.180 Avanti.
Flight trials of the aircraft are continuing in Sicily using the first prototype P.1HH Hammerhead demonstrator that made its first flight in November 2013.
According to Piaggio, the company — which is working with Selex ES — has “validated and fine-tuned” the control laws, including augmented modes, flight envelope protection and automatic flight. Automatic management of ground run during takeoff and landing also has been added, the company says.
“Safety-critical phases, such as takeoff and landing, when using the ground control station and data link systems in manual flight have been explored and brought to an unprecedented ease of operation with the close collaboration between the two companies’ engineering and flight teams,” the company said July 17 at the Farnborough air show.
In addition, the two companies have begun work on the aircraft’s mission system. During flights from Trapani, engineers have been testing the aircraft’s electro-optical camera and mission management system, based on the Selex ES skyISTAR system. The company says it also will integrate the Selex Seaspray 7300E radar into the aircraft.
Farnborough was a significant success for the company, with the sale of up to 50 of its modernized Avanti Evo to Hong Kong-baed Bravia Capital, including increased range, reduced fuel consumption and winglets. The deal, signed at the show July 15, is for 10 firm orders and 40 options.