Thu, Apr 01, 2010
UAV Biz Jet Builds On Success Of Military Unmanned Systems
ANN April 1st Special Edition: Defense giant
Northrup Grumman Thursday took the wraps off its first new
commercial aircraft in decades, the Unpiloted Autonomous Biz-AV
Vehicle (UBAV) corporate jet dubbed The Business Hawk. Based on its
highly successful military drone, the Business Hawk is a scaled-up
version of the Global Hawk reconnaissance platform that will carry
up to five passengers without need for a crew.
As an autonomous vehicle, the Business Hawk can be programmed by
the executive to go where they need to go. "We've proven this
technology with autonomous cargo delivery UASs," said Northrop
Grumman vice president for corporate aviation Wyatt Janeedme.
"We've taken that concept and just pressurized the hull, put in
some seats and fine-grain wood ... it's the perfect business travel
News of the Business Hawk shot through corporate flight
departments like a cannon, with pilots blasting the concept as
"ludicrous." "What do you mean ... 'no pilot'" sputtered one who
spoke to ANN on condition of anonymity. "Between you and me, CEO's
love to have somebody up front to tell where to go. It's what makes
them feel important. They'll never go for an airplane that they
can't delude themselves into thinking they could REALLY fly in a
pinch if they had to ...?
But analysts say that, in this "anything to improve the bottom
line" economy, corporate financial departments will likely strongly
push the idea of eliminating the pilot's positions to save money.
"Corporations are going to have to pay for health care somehow,"
said one. "If there's a way to automate, you can bet that they'll
be taking a good, long, hard look at it."
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