April 8, 2010
Diamond revealed that a new follow-on design of the DA42M twin, the DA42M-OPV, will have its first flight sometime in September at the Manassas, Va., airport. The unmodified airplane has already arrived at Manassas. The DA42M-OPV is a surveillance platform equipped with video cameras, advanced radar capabilities, and proprietary electronics and software.
The “OPV” stands for optionally piloted vehicle, and it’s being developed with the help of Aurora Flight Sciences of Manassas. The idea is to offer a choice of a human pilot or remote, pilotless operation of the airplane, dubbed the “Centaur.” Diamond has experimented with pilotless versions of its DA42 platform in an airplane called the DA42 MPP (multi-purpose platform), but Aurora’s work will expand the concept.
“The DA42M-OPV has roughly the same payload and range performance as the Predator UAV,” said Aurora Flight Science President John Langford. “But it has several important advantages. First, it can be flown with a pilot aboard, which will facilitate operation in the National Airspace System. Second, it has two engines, which gives greater reliability and safety. Third, the Centaur is easily reconfigurable, so it can carry a variety of payloads. Finally, it has low operating costs.”
The OPV’s first mission will be to map the Greenland ice pack, Langford said.
Collaboration between the German government, academia, and airplane manufacturers may make future aircraft cabins more protective of pilots and passengers. The Safety Box team plans to apply auto racing technology to general aviation.
A father and his 14-year-old son were helping another pilot ferry a newly purchased aircraft from California to their home field in Virginia. The three made an overnight stop in Albuquerque before flying on to Illinois for fuel. But shortly after they parked the aircraft in Marion, Ill., they were approached by as many as 18 uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement officers who came running toward the airplane.
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