In an aviation first a Cessna 208B Caravan was successfully flown with no-one on board by US aircraft automation systems firm, Reliable Robotics.
The Cessna 208B Caravan took off in November 2023, and was operated by a remote pilot in Reliable Robotics’ control center 50 miles away.
The company announced the significant milestone on December 6, 2023, with ambitions to bring the technology to market in the US.
The flight was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after the agency formally accepted the certification plan for Reliable’s autonomous flight system in June 2023.
The certification plan leverages existing regulations for normal and transport category aircraft and did not require any special conditions or exemptions.
“With multiple industry-first technical accomplishments and unrivaled FAA certification progress, Reliable Robotics is well positioned to deliver safety-enhancing aircraft automation systems,” Reliable said.
The Reliable autonomous flight system enables the aircraft to be remotely operated by a pilot on the ground and improves safety by fully automating the aircraft through all phases of operation including taxi, takeoff and landing.
The company said that its “system will prevent controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control in flight (LOC-I), which accounts for the majority of fatal aviation accidents”.
Reliable has been working with the US Air Force to see how the technology could be used on large multi-engine aircraft for cargo logistics, aerial refueling and other missions.
Cargo transportation is also an area that has a lot of potential for Reliable with uncrewed planes costing less to operate.
You can watch a video of the flight on Reliable Robotics YouTube channel.
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