NASA tests solar-powered Silent Falcon UAS for large-scale operations

October 25, 2016  - By
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NASA’s concept for a possible UTM system would safely manage diverse UAS operations in the airspace above buildings and below crewed aircraft operations in suburban and urban areas. (Image: NASA)

NASA’s concept for a possible UTM system would safely manage diverse UAS operations in the airspace above buildings and below crewed aircraft operations in suburban and urban areas. (Image: NASA)

Silent Falcon UAS Technologies participated in the NASA UTM (unmanned traffic management) project headed up by the NASA Ames Research Center, held this month in Reno, Nevada.

NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are working together to identify ways to safely enable large-scale UAS operations in the low-altitude airspace. The growing number of UAS and commercial UAS applications has led to this critical project.

The UTM flight tests took place the week of Oct. 17. Silent Falcon, along with 11 other partners in the UTM program, flew their aircraft in typical UAS scenarios.

The tests focused on the ability to alert and inform airspace users of potential dangers and conflicting situations that go BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) as well as within VLOS (visual line of sight). Safety is of utmost importance and visual observers will be put in place to ensure aircraft stay on their designated paths and won’t interfere with other aircraft in the area.

Silent Falcon

Silent Falcon is a solar electric, carbon fiber, modular small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) designed for numerous commercial, public safety, military and security applications.

Silent Falcon’s solar electric propulsion systems gives it the unique ability to stay in the air for extended periods of time — five or more hours depending on environmental conditions. It’s also what gives the Silent Falcon its ability to be virtually silent. Once the Silent Falcon reaches 100 meters, it’s effectively undetectable.

The composite structure of the Silent Falcon provides exceptional durability while flying in all types of conditions, as well as for launch and recovery. It’s also very lightweight for ease of transport and in-air maneuverability.

The Silent Falcon UAS prepared for launch. (Photo: Silent Falcon)

The Silent Falcon UAS prepared for launch. (Photo: Silent Falcon)

Using a highly sophisticated mesh network, wave relay communication system, the airborne network nodes provide seamless dissemination of voice, video and data. With an internet connection on the ground, users can provide secure and encrypted voice, video and data to anyone, anywhere in the world on a private Silent Falcon communication network.

The large, open payload bay of the Silent Falcon has been designed with an open interface and open architecture to accommodate a wide range of sensors, cameras and payloads. This allows the Silent Falcon to perform a large variety of extended range and endurance missions.

“We are extremely fortunate to be a part of this very important project – both in the actual flight operations, as well as the development of the UTM software,” said John Brown, Silent Falcon UAS Technologies president and CEO. “This project is extremely important to the UAS industry and is of particular interest to us as we manufacture a long-range, long-endurance fixed-wing UAS that was designed for BVLOS applications. We are grateful to NASA for including us and we look forward to further participation as the project continues to move forward.”

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