Israel Aircraft Industries’ (IAI) Malat division will perform fully unmanned flight tests of a Bell 206 helicopter early next year using a conversion system.

The process will build on an earlier series of trials during which the testbed was controlled from the ground with a safety pilot also on board. IAI says it has developed a conversion kit which will provide operators with a “plug and fly” capability to convert any helicopter – including those with electro-mechanical flight controls – for unmanned use.

The company – which tested its Hellstar hovering unmanned air vehicle during the 1980s – says it has revived its interest in vertical take-off and landing systems amid growing interest from the Israeli and other navies.

Source: Flight International