Leonardo announced on Tuesday that it carried out the first flight of its SW-4 Solo single-engine optionally piloted helicopter, flying for 45 minutes with no safety pilot on board.
Tests of the Solo Rotary Unmanned Air System/Optionally Piloted Helicopter included “remote engine start up and shut down with ground run, automatic take-off and landing, hovering OGE (Out of Ground Effect) and acceleration to forward flight, automatic way point navigation to and from the area of operation and simulation of a surveillance mission,” the company said in a press release.
The helicopter reached an altitude of 1,500 feet (457 meters) and a speed of 60 knots (111 km/h) during the flight at Taranto-Grottaglie Airport in southern Italy.
The Solo RUAS/OPH is derived from Leonardo’s SW-4 helicopter, manufactured in Poland, and is designed to operate with or without a pilot. Tests with a pilot on board have been conduced since December 2016, but Tuesday’s test was the first solo flight.
Leonardo markets the SW-4 Solo for civil government, military and maritime use. When piloted, it can be used for personnel transport and cargo re-supply as well as surveillance, battlefield activities and intervention. Its maritime applications include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, targeting, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare support, and mine countermeasures.