UAV Navigation, a Spanish company, has succeeded in demonstrating the safe operation of an automatic drone or unmanned aircraft system (UAS/RPAS) in a flight to 20 km beyond visual range whilst complying with the strict Spanish aviation regulations.

The flights took place on the 14th and 15th of January at the ATLAS Test Flight Center under direction of Seville’s Air Traffic Control Center (ACC) in Seville, of the Regional Bureau of Southern Air Navigation of AENA, and in collaboration with ATLAS and VITO, the Belgian company which is the final customer of the drone.

The drone, developed by UAV Navigation, weighs 45 kg and cruises at 130 km/h. It has a ceiling of 3,500 m, a range of 400 km. It incorporates a high performance, stabilized day/night camera and has advanced safety measures, including a transponder and a parachute. It should be noted that the autopilot has more than 50,000 flying hours and features both physical and logical redundancy.

It is the first flight of its kind to be authorized and executed in Spain and is an important step for the integration of drones in the airspace.

In order to obtain a special certificate of airworthiness and the flight authorization a detailed aeronautical safety study of the operation was carried out, taking into account the basic characteristics of the aircraft and its equipment and systems. In order to ensure flight safety, a description of the experimental flights to be executed, flight profiles, operational characteristics, conditions and limitations were also studied and documented.

In addition, the pilots were required to meet all current regulations, including a pilot’s license, medical examination and completion of type certification on the UAV platform.

UAV Navigation is a Spanish company has been developing and manufacturing autopilots for drones since 2004. It also specializes in providing flight control solutions for large autonomous airplanes and helicopters, including converted manned aircraft, and exports more than 80 % of its products worldwide, including USA, Middle East, Asia and Oceania. Its customers include many of the world’s leading manufacturers of drones and Tier 1 system integrators.
ATLAS is a test center unique in Spain and Europe for unmanned aircraft and systems that offers the international aerospace community an airfield equipped with excellent technological facilities ideal for the development of experimental flights with tactical and light unmanned aerial systems and aircrafts (UAS / RPAS).

The center provides infrastructure for UAS platforms and on board systems testing, as well as the services needed to design customers testing, integrate systems in UAS platforms of the center or third-party platforms, operate UAS during the tests, and collect and interpret data, providing a value information to the customer.