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The DA42M-OPV combines the efficiency and reliability of a proven, certificated airframe with Aurora's UAV avionics. (Photo: Diamond Aircraft Industries)

Aurora launches development of Optionally Piloted Vehicle based on the DA42M

Aurora Flight Sciences announced today the launch of an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) based on the popular Diamond Aircraft DA42M. The DA42M is a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified twin-engine aircraft that seats four people. Its diesel engines run on a range of heavy fuels. It is made in Austria by Diamond Aircraft Industries. In July 2009, Diamond Aircraft received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certification for the Austro Engine AE300 Powerplant. The FAA certification of the Austro AE300 engine paves the way for FAA validation of the EASA Type Certificate for the DA42 Next Gen configuration. FAA validation is expected late third quarter 2009. Diamond's DA42 NG averages a fuel burn of only 5.6 gph per engine, at 65% power and 155 kts at 14,000 feet.

"Performance of the basic DA42M is impressive," said Aurora President John Langford. "With two people it has an endurance of 17 hours. With pilots removed in the OPV configuration, performance is even better. With 100 pounds of payload, the DA42M-OPV will have an endurance of 26 hours or a radius of 1000 nm. Its turbocharged engines are certified for operations up to 18,000 feet and have performed at altitudes above 25,000 feet."

The OPV concept is intended to combine the best of manned and unmanned aircraft capabilities. In its manned mode, the DA42M-OPV will retain its EASA certification and can be flown by any pilot licensed to fly the standard DA42. This is ideal for ferry operations, pilot proficiency, and for operation within the National Airspace System or other controlled environments. In cases where extended performance is needed, or where operations are too dangerous for manned aircraft, the unmanned mode is activated and the aircraft can be operated from a remote ground control station. The OPV system will be compatible with NATO STANAG 4586, making it compatible with other existing unmanned systems. The ground control equipment is sufficiently compact to fit within the existing DA42M cargo space and can be ferried within the aircraft to remote destinations.

The avionics and flight control system for the DA42M-OPV is being developed and tested by Aurora using company owned aircraft. Aurora's track record with advanced flight control systems for UAVs dates back more than two decades across a large range of Aurora developed UAVs.

The DA42M-OPV will be available for delivery in the third quarter of 2010, subject to customer orders. Aurora is currently in discussion with several potential launch customers.

Press release issued by Aurora Flight Sciences on August 12, 2009

 

 Contact details from our directory:
Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH Airframer
Austro Engine GmbH Piston Engines, Piston Diesel Engines
Aurora Flight Sciences Airframer

 

 Related aircraft programs:
Diamond DA42 Twin Star

 

 Related directory sectors:
Flight and Data Management
Engines
Airframe Assemblies

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