By Justin Wastnage in London

Boeing yesterday revealed it sucessfully completed a test flight last month of its Boeing unmanned Little Bird demonstrator, a modified MD Helicopters 530F, without a safety pilot on board (pictured below).

The helicopter flew on 30 June at US Army Yuma proving ground in Arizona, around 200km (130miles) from the Boeing Rotocraft facility in Mesa, Arizona. The single-engined aircraft has been flown with a safety pilot on board for the past two years. The aircraft has notched up 450h of engineering flight tests.

Boeing Little Bird W445
© Mike Goettings / Boeing Media 

Little Bird flew for 20min on a pre-programmed armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission, the compamny says, before returning to its helipad and landing with an accuracy of 15cm (6in).

"Expansion of the flight envleope to include true unmanned flight is a major milestone for the programme and opens doors to a wide range of applications fo rthis aircrfat," says Dino Cerchie, advanced systems programme manager for the unmanned Little Bird demonstrator.

Little Bird will be developoed into the A/MH-6X unmanned rotorcraft, which is expected to make its first flight this year.

Source: Flight International