Texas-based Geneva Aerospace is in discussions with the US Navy about turning its unmanned air vehicle shipboard landing technology research programme into a funded concept demonstration.

The current programme, run under a US small business innovation research grant, will see a UAV version of the Berkut Engineering Berkut kitplane make its first fully autonomous flight, including take-off and landing. Geneva said in March it had made six fully autonomous landings using its prototype shipboard precision landing system fitted in its Dakota UAV. The in-flight autonomous guidance segment of the system was separately test flown in January on an unmanned version of the Rutan Long EZ kitplane.

Geneva says the Berkut flights will be the first full test of the complete autonomy suite, but shipboard tests depend on establishment of the follow-on programme. Any shipboard test would also begin using a smaller air vehicle, most likely one in the 9-14kg (20-30lb) range as opposed to the 900kg Berkut.

The landing technology is based on a hybrid design that links GPS with what the company calls a combined “trajectory synthesis” and “line-of-sight rate guidance” system.


Source: Flight International