Leonardo is working on certifying its Falco family of unmanned air vehicles for flight in non-segregated airspace, as part of a new services-based offering that it has introduced at the show.

Building on the portfolio of military UAVs that it offers, and the experience it has in providing Falco to the UN on a services basis in support of the organisation’s MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the company is launching a UAV service model that will allow customers to pay for hours and data.

“Our usual domain has been the military market, but we started some years ago to sell the services to some end-users,” says Fabrizio Boggiani, head of Leonardo Support and Services Solutions Italy.

He adds that the first step in support of this is getting authorisation from the Italian civil aviation authority ENAC to certify Falco to fly in national airspace.

“The ultimate goal will be the Falco operating in support of civilian operations, which in general means it will be able to fly over populated areas.”

Work towards this is under way, Boggiani says, adding that he is keen for this process to be complete because at present it is holding back the start of the new services business.

“We have to guarantee the safety of the flight,” he says. “To the best of our knowledge, we are the first in Italy and in Europe to be preparing ourselves to be a certified [UAV] air operator.”

The company has also teamed up with certified air operator Heli Protection Europe to offer surveillance and reconnaissance services using UAVs.

“This is in preparation for when the [necessary] airspace regulations are issued,” Boggiani notes. “It is more critical in terms of safety with this than it is with military operations.”

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Source: Flight Daily News