The Italian aerospace agency (CIRA) is to flight test avionics and control software for use by a proposed high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned air vehicle over Italy later this year. The 20-flight test programme will use a piloted, single-propeller aircraft acting as a UAV surrogate and carrying research instrumentation.

The flights will test various control functions including sense and avoid, autonomous take-off and landing and autonomous flight, with true sense and avoid operations to follow next year. The multi-million dollar research project entered a three-year second phase in January 2005. "All flight functions will be validated over the next three years," says Ludovico Vecchione, CIRA's head of UAV programmes.

Source: Flight International