March 7, 2013
By Jim Moore
The HammerHead UAS, based on the Piaggio P.180 Avanti design. Image courtesy Piaggio Aero.
Spying in style is not just for James Bond: Italian aircraft maker Piaggio Aero has teamed with Selex Electronic Systems to adapt the P.180 Avanti twin turboprop for unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The windowless version was introduced to the world in February, and ground testing has commenced, the companies announced.
Gizmodo immediately declared the P.1HH “HammerHead” the “world’s most stylish” unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The companies producing it opted to highlight performance in a press announcement, noting a cruising altitude of 45,000 feet and 16-hour endurance.
Derived from the Avanti airframe, the HammerHead UAS is controlled remotely and capable of operations beyond line of sight, confirming to a NATO UAS control standard. The HammerHead is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6-66B turboprop engines, and positions Piaggio to compete in the lucrative military UAS market.
“It supports Piaggio Aero’s vision of becoming a prominent player in the surveillance and security sector producing leading edge Unmanned Aerial Systems and world class Multirole Patrol Aircraft,” said Alberto Galassi, Piaggio Aero Industries CEO, in a news release.
The HammerHead UAS is expected to fly this year. Photo courtesy Piaggio Aero.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
Actor, pilot, and general aviation advocate Harrison Ford was hospitalized March 5 after sustaining injuries in an emergency landing at a California golf course, according to multiple news reports.
AOPA has joined the “Know Before You Fly” campaign that seeks to educate users of unmanned aircraft systems about safe and responsible operations, including where and how high unmanned aircraft may be flown.
With solid instrument meteorological conditions extending hundreds of miles in every direction, a VFR-only pilot was stuck on top. The controller who helped him was among those honored March 4 with the Archie League Medal of Safety Award.
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