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U.S. Air Force Conducts First Remotely Piloted eVTOL Flight

Flight testing of U.S. Air Force’s advanced air mobility prototypes underway in Ohio

Thu May 05 2022
2 Men flight testing of U.S. Air Force’s advanced air mobility prototypes

Organization: U.S. Air Force

Location: Springfield

Industry Sector: Aerospace and Aviation / Military and Federal

Launched in April 2020, the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime Program is the Air Force’s collaborative initiative to work with the industrial sector for testing and experimentation for the commercial electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft industry. This program was designed to enable resilient distributed logistics and sustainable mobility.

With our leading-edge aerospace research, innovation, and collaborative development, it’s no wonder that this program has chosen Ohio to take flight. The Air Force granted approval for unmanned flights for the 880-lb. gross-weight Heaviside in July 2021 and in November 2021, the Heaviside had its first beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight at the Agility Prime test hub at Spring­field-Beckley Municipal Airport.

In December, Capt. Terrance McKenna, Air Force Reserve pilot and test experimentation lead for Agility Prime, flew the Heaviside as the remote pilot in control. As part of their partnership with Agility Prime, Kitty Hawk, the aircraft manufacturer headquartered in Palo Alto, California will produce a training syllabus for the single-seat, tilt-prop eVTOL aircraft.

Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and Ohio Department of Transportation, Kitty Hawk used the SkyVision ground-based detect-and-avoid system to fly the Heaviside alongside manned traffic. The Heaviside is now the first remotely controlled BVLOS flight in non-re­stricted airspace by an eVTOL company.

The Air Force’s AFWerx innovation unit is also looking to use the Heaviside for auton­omous missions that include casualty evacuation and recovery of downed aircrew. Agility Prime has also announced flight-test agreements with eVTOL, Joby Aviation, Beta Technologies, Lift Aircraft, Elroy Air, Archer Aviation and Sarewing Aircraft.

This program and the continued military aerospace investment in Ohio once again shows the state’s capability in leading aerospace and aviation technology. 

Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report