Officials from the UAS Integration Office of the FAA, the Grand Rapids Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and the Detroit Manufacturing Inspection Satellite Offices (MISO) recently met in Saginaw, Michigan, to oversee final requirements before issuing Merrill Aviation & Defense (Merrill) a special Experimental Airworthiness Certification for its remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) named The Torrent.
The Torrent was unveiled in May of 2013, becoming Michigan’s first ever designed and developed fixed wing RPA.
The lightweight, all-electric, hand-launchable platform can achieve silent flight durations in excess of six hours on batteries alone and more than 10 hours with optional solar cells, all while maintaining a cruising speed of 45 mph, according to company officials.
The Torrent has a wingspan of 12 feet and can carry up to five pounds of payload.
“This certification allows us to conduct product development flights, crew and customer training, customer demonstrations, pilot training and demonstrations for other state agencies including the DOD, all within a designated airspace,” says Robert Yackel, CEO of Merrill’s parent company, Merrill Technologies Group.
Uses for The Torrent include Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA), disaster assistance, convoy escort, border monitoring, payload evaluation and counter-narcotics.
Merrill acknowledges its partner, Northwestern Michigan College for providing this critical field support.
In addition to the FAA Experimental Airworthiness Certification, Merrill has a current Certificate of Authorization (COA) with Northwestern Michigan College and aims to secure a second COA by first quarter of 2015 with Camp Atterbury in Indiana. The COAs allow Merrill to work with these public agencies and support their activities with The Torrent.