Business Aviation Now

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  • Heli-Expo Futures: Pilot Optional
    Posted by George Larson 2:15 PM on Mar 08, 2011

    Kaman pioneered unmanned helicopter operations back in the '50s. Now the idea is proliferating in parallel with the rapid expansion of pilotless fixed-wing flight as the Predator and Global Hawk change the nature of the battlefield, er, battlespace (that's the new modern for "battlefield"). Now that Sikorsky is launching the S-97 Raider as a military prototype for a new class of high-speed helicopter based on its X2 research vehicle, it says the craft will offer the option of two, one or no pilots at the flip of a switch. It's also developing a pilot-optional Blackhawk.

    Eurocopter has been conducting research into non-piloted versions, and AgustaWestland is, too. Boeing has a pilot-optional Little Bird in operation based on the MD 530F. Israel has the Black Eagle, and Bell (with Northrop Grumman) has the no-pilot Fire-X, and, yes, Kaman is working with the Marine Crops on a pilot-optional aircraft that would sling cargo into hazardous combat areas.

    What once seemed a bit Buck Rogers is a commonplace.

    Tags: ba99 heli11

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