Stemme AG and S-PLANE Automation have entered an agreement to integrate S-PLANE subsystems into the ECARYS ES15 aircraft to create an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV).
The OPV combines the benefits of a manned aircraft with those of an unmanned aerial system (UAS), according to company officials.
As a manned aircraft, the OPV can execute missions that demand human judgement and control, such as flight in civil airspace, flight over congested areas, flying at low level and transporting passengers, they explained.
When the pilot is removed from the cockpit, the system can perform unmanned missions that require extreme endurance or are more dangerous to perform, such as critical infrastructure protection and surveillance, border and maritime patrol, cargo delivery, firefighting and HAZMAT containment, officials said.
The ECARYS ES15 is a certified high performance aircraft with a 770 pound payload capacity and a 1,350 nm range.
The aircraft can operate in mission-driven mode where the entire flight from automated takeoff to automated landing is directed by the on-board control systems.
Alternate landing sites, escape routes and emergency handling procedures are defined in the mission profile to ensure safe operation under varying conditions, company officials noted.
A remote pilot can take control of the aircraft at any time, altering the mission or interactively controlling the aircraft and payload.
High bandwidth Line-Of-Sight links provide real-time payload video at the Ground Control Station while Beyond-Line-Of-Sight operation is enabled via satellite links.
Founded in 1984, Stemme AG is today a certified aircraft design and manufacturing company active in sport aviation and utility aircraft. More than 300 aircraft have been delivered worldwide. ECARYS is a wholly owned subsidiary.
S-PLANE Automation (Pty) Ltd is a South African aerospace and defense company specializing in development for autonomous systems and related subsystems. S-PLANE focuses on Optionally Piloted Vehicles (OPVs) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and their navigation, flight control and mission management subsystems, including ground support elements.