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Classic Aero-TV: An Optionally Piloted DA42 - Aurora Flight Sciences 'Centaur'

From 2015 (YouTube Version): A Familiar GA Airframe Is Repurposed For Futuristic Missions

ANN CEO and Editor-In-Chief, Jim Campbell, spent time at the Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference to find out more about unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

When we think about a UAS, it’s common to visualize a remotely controlled vertical lift device or some other special purpose remotely controlled or autonomous aircraft. In this interview with Peter LeHew, the director of flight operations and UAS operations for Aurora Flight Sciences, you’ll find out that a UAS takes many forms.

Aurora Flight Sciences is in the business of repurposing aircraft that are already flying and, in the case of this experiment, also FAA certificated. They chose the diamond DA-42 to experiment with what they call an, “optionally piloted aircraft.” LeHew defines this as an aircraft that can be operated in a manned mode, remote mode, or a hybrid of the two.

You need to watch the video for all the details, but here’s an example of the hybrid operation of the aircraft. LeHew says they have been operating this aircraft in the Washington, DC area. By having a pilot on board, they can fly it as a certified aircraft and meet all the requirements for normal aircraft operation, yet it is being operated in a remote mode.

As you watch the video and listen to more information about this interesting system, you’ll see some fascinating views of the diamond DA-42 being flown in a completely automated mode without a pilot…it looks just a little weird!

Aero-TV is a production of the Internationally syndicated Aero-News Network. Seen worldwide by hundreds of thousands of aviators and aviation adherents, Aero-TV has produced over 2000 aviation and feature programs, including several hundred episodes of our daily aviation news program, AIRBORNE, hosted by Bri Cross. Parent company, Aero-News Network, has the most aggressive and intensive editorial profile of any aviation news organization and has published nearly 200,000 news and feature stories since its inception -- having pioneered the online 24/7 aviation new-media model that so many have emulated.

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