Aurora to use DA42 NG as Optionally Piloted Vehicle

Aurora Flight Sciences announced today the launch of an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) based on the Diamond Aircraft DA42 M twin.

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.

"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 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.

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