Reliable Robotics Flies Large Cargo Aircraft with No One On Board
Reliable Robotics, a leader in aircraft automation systems, today announced a significant milestone in its work to bring advanced safety-enhancing technologies to market in the United States. Last month’s successful flight of a Cessna 208B Caravan with no one on board was a first for aviation. A remote pilot supervised the uncrewed aircraft from Reliable’s control center 50 miles away. For a 360° experience inside the cockpit, view and scroll around at: https://youtu.be/0W5JHIHq40Q
The Reliable autonomous flight system enables the aircraft to be remotely operated by a pilot on the ground and improves safety by fully automating the aircraft through all phases of operation including taxi, takeoff and landing. Reliable’s system is aircraft agnostic and utilizes multiple layers of redundancy and advanced navigation technology to achieve the levels of integrity and reliability necessary for uncrewed flight. The system will prevent controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control in flight (LOC-I), which account for the majority of fatal aviation accidents.
The Cessna Caravan is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc. Reliable Robotics has been collaborating with Textron Aviation, which includes the Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands, and Textron eAviation focused on sustainable flying. Textron Aviation has delivered more than 3,000 Caravans, proving it to be the world’s most popular turboprop utility aircraft.
“Textron Aviation is committed to delivering continuous aviation improvements and our relationship with Reliable Robotics advances this work,” said Chris Hearne, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Programs, Textron Aviation. “Reliable’s successful flight of an uncrewed Cessna 208 Caravan represents a milestone for the industry in bringing new technology to aviation.”
The Caravan, and other regional cargo aircraft like it, serve an essential role connecting communities and businesses across the United States and around the globe. With a useful load of over 3,000 pounds, and a take-off performance to operate from shorter runways, these aircraft deliver time-sensitive shipments to many places that would otherwise not have next-day or same-day service. Remote piloting will allow even more areas to benefit from this critical service.
ASL Aviation Holdings is a global aviation services company with airlines based in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, and has been working with Reliable Robotics since 2022 to explore bringing advanced aircraft automation into its operations. ASL operates a fleet of over 160 aircraft and provides cargo services for the world’s leading express parcel integrators and eCommerce platforms. Reliable Robotics is an original member of ASL’s CargoVision forum of companies involved in pioneering new aviation and propulsion technologies.
“ASL is always innovating to better serve customers, and our partnership with Reliable Robotics is aimed at enabling us to provide reliable, flexible and cost-efficient time-sensitive cargo delivery to smaller unserved areas,” said Dave Andrew, Chief Executive of ASL Aviation Holdings. “This historic flight is a testament to Reliable’s focused leadership in advancing aviation innovation and capability for the industry.”
Reliable Robotics and the U.S. Air Force are working to leverage the significant progress on remote piloting for the Cessna Caravan to jointly examine how this commercially derived technology can be applied to large multi-engine aircraft for cargo logistics, aerial refueling and other missions. Reliable has been working under a series of contracts with the Air Force since 2021.
“This monumental aviation achievement is a great example of how AFWERX accelerates agile and affordable capability transitions for the world's greatest Air Force," said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX Director and Chief Commercialization Officer for the Department of the Air Force. “This milestone accelerates dual-use uncrewed flight opportunities, increasing aviation safety and enabling us to bring a broad range of autonomous military capabilities into denied environments.”
The FAA formally accepted the certification plan for Reliable’s autonomous flight system in June of 2023. The certification plan leverages existing regulations for normal and transport category aircraft, and does not require any special conditions or exemptions. With multiple industry-first technical accomplishments and unrivaled FAA certification progress, Reliable Robotics is well positioned to deliver safety-enhancing aircraft automation systems.
About Textron Aviation
We inspire the journey of flight. For more than 95 years, Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. company, has empowered our collective talent across the Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands to design and deliver the best aviation experience for our customers. With a range that includes everything from business jets, turboprops, and high-performance pistons, to special mission, military trainer and defense products, Textron Aviation has the most versatile and comprehensive aviation product portfolio in the world and a workforce that has produced more than half of all general aviation aircraft worldwide. Customers in more than 170 countries rely on our legendary performance, reliability and versatility, along with our trusted global customer service network, for affordable and flexible flight.
About Textron Inc.
Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Pipistrel, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training. For more information, visit: www.textron.com
About ASL Aviation Holdings
ASL Aviation Holdings, a global aviation services company with eight airlines based in Europe, South Africa, Asia and Australia, is a world leader in ACMI airline operations and both scheduled and charter cargo and passenger services. Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, ASL’s airlines include ASL Airlines Ireland, ASL Airlines Belgium, ASL Airlines France and ASL Airlines United Kingdom in Europe. Since April 2023 the group also includes ASL Airlines Australia, formerly known as Pionair. ASL also has an associate low-cost passenger airline, FlySafair, in South Africa and joint venture cargo airlines K-Mile Asia in Thailand and Quikjet Airlines in India.
ASL Aviation Holdings airlines operate cargo services for the world’s leading express parcel integrators and eCommerce retailers. Group airlines also operate scheduled and charter cargo and services under its own airline brands on domestic, international, and intercontinental routes in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North America and Africa. ASL has a global team of 3,000 people of 51 nationalities. The Group has a fleet of 160 aircraft that includes 9 aircraft types ranging from the turbo-prop ATR 72 to the Boeing 747.
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com
As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 4,697 contracts worth more than $2.6 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com
About Reliable Robotics
Reliable Robotics launched in 2017 to bring safe, certified automation systems to commercial aviation. The company’s system enables remote operation of any aircraft type. Reliable’s vision is to transform the way we move goods and people around the planet with safer, more convenient and more affordable air transportation. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, CA and has a distributed global workforce. Learn more and see job openings at https://reliable.co
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