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KAI's VTOL performed a successful first flight, proving its unmanned technology

Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. announced that the company succeeded in flying an unmanned helicopter, NI-600VT (Night Intruder-600 Vertica Take-off and Landing) in its first flight, which is being developed under its own R&D fund. In the first flight which was held on September 24th, in Goheung Aerospace Centre, South Jeolla Province, the NI-600VT showed hovering and horizontal direction conversion functions and by doing so, the copter confirmed its flight control performance and safety.

The NI-600VT copter, a reformed version of a twin seat commercial helicopter, is a 600kg-class unmanned vertical take-off and landing aircraft, the core systems of which, such as auto flight control and avionics were entirely developed by KAI's technology. The company enhanced the copter's stability of operation via the mulitplex of the flight-critical equipment including flight control computer, sensors and data-link. The NI-600VT copter is capable of locating its position automatically even under an emergency condition to return safely to its base.

The KAI has prepared for future demand for VTOL, via customers' requirement analysis since 2015. Selecting an unmanned aircraft candidate in 2016, the company set out to develop the technology demonstration copter in 2017. KAI finally succeeded in unmanned flight 2 years later.

The NI-600VT copter, being 5600kg in total weight acquired a Special Airworthiness Cetificate from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in July and flight permit from Busan Regional Aviation Administration in August in accordance with the Aviation Safety Act, which marks the first time in Korea.

KAI plans to complete the first-phase development of the NI-600VT within this year and secure its automatic take-off and landing ability by starting the second-phase follow up development in order to advance the copter's ability of operation further.

The VTOL is able to take off and land freely, without an airstrip, and for that reason, the application is diverse, depending on customer needs. For instance, for mountain and marine surveillance and reconnaissance activity or search for missing and cargo transport. For the successful development of the unmanned technology of a manned helicopter this time, KAI held its own source technology, which will enable the company to reform a fixed and rotory wing aircraft into an unmanned one in the upcoming years, through which the company envisions being a pioneer in the unmanned aircraft technology and industry.

In addition, KAI is taking part in the system development of a fixed wing UAV which allows for long endurance and seeks to expand the fleet's line-up via prior research and massive investment with its own funds, to develop the next generation unmanned air vehicles, like a self exploding UAV and an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), preparing for the diverse demands of the future.

Press release issued by Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. on September 24, 2019


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