The first fuselage for the RV-160 Flying Test Bed (FTB) unmanned air vehicle has arrived at Italian UAV Advanced Aviation Technology (A2Tech) for assembly leading to the planned first flight in May.

The wing and empennage are expected arrive soon for the prototype, designated the RV-160 FTB technology demonstrator. Resembling a cargo aircraft, the German-made 3.2m (10.4ft)-long glassfibre fuselage will be modified to allow the upper nose section to swing open for easy payload loading.

Other changes include a removable cargo door in the underside of the rear fuselage for the installation of avionics and payloads, including those to be air-dropped.

RV-160 uav

The front part of the fuselage will also be removable for electro-optic and infrared camera installation. The centre fuselage's payload area is 350mm (13.7in) wide and 1,200mm long and the cargo compartment has a loading system for centre of gravity reconfiguration and what the company calls "fast payload" integration.

"The aircraft was designed in order to provide an economic means of developing and flight testing customer avionic suites and payload sensors. Most of the UAVs used for research and development are modified production models and not well featured for the research of unmanned applications. The RV-160 FTB is the answer on this gap," says A2Tech, founded in 2004.