Thursday, December 29, 2016

Leonardo Assumes Ownership of Unmanned Helicopter Maker

Advertised for civil and homeland security missions, the SD-150 Hero can fly autonomously.
(Photo: Leonardo-Finmeccanica)

Leonardo-Finmeccanica has taken ownership of an Italian company that developed the SD-150 Hero small unmanned helicopter. The acquisition, announced on December 27, builds on Leonardo’s stable of unmanned aircraft, which includes the SW-4 Solo optionally piloted helicopter.

Leonardo said it acquired the remaining 60 percent of shares of Sistemi Dinamici of Pisa, Italy, for an undisclosed amount. The latter company was formed in 2006 as a joint venture between IDS Ingegneria Dei Sistemi and Leonardo’s former AgustaWestland subsidiary to focus on helicopter flight dynamics, fly-by-wire controls and unmanned aircraft.

“This acquisition is a testament to the quality of our investments in the field of unmanned systems, a sector with high added value in which Leonardo is a leader in Europe,” said Mauro Moretti, Leonardo CEO and general manager. “Thanks to a defined investment strategy, our portfolio is further enriched, making Leonardo even more competitive and ready to meet the future challenges in advanced technologies.”

Sistemi Dinamici’s SD-150 Hero is a 220-pound empty weight (330-pound mtow) helicopter with a 50-hp, two-stroke engine and three-blade main rotor system. Hosting modular underbelly and nose payload bays and capable of flying autonomous pre-programmed missions, the aircraft is designed for civil aerial inspection and monitoring applications as well as for homeland security missions.

On December 16, Leonardo announced the first flight a day earlier of the SW-4 Solo, an optionally piloted version of the SW-4 single-engine light helicopter originally developed by Poland’s PZL-Swidnik, since 2010 part of Leonardo. Italy’s ENAC civil aviation authority and the Pugliese aerospace technology district participated in the maiden flight, which took place at Taranto-Grottaglie Airport. Flight testing will continue into the first few months of 2017, with validation of procedures and regulations for the use of unmanned aircraft among key objectives, Leonardo said.

In a separate development earlier this year, ENAC awarded the first RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system) project certificate to IDS’s IA-3 Colibri quadcopter. The type certification allows for series production of the 2.2 kg (4.8 pound) empy weight drone, which serves for aerial inspection as well as surveillance and reconnaissance missions, IDS announced in August.

“The award of this certification to the IA-3 Colibri offers a great advantage to its users in that they will now not be required to prove the IA-3 Colibri’s suitability but will only have to demonstrate operational compliance aspects when applying for authorization,” IDS said.

(Bill Carey - AINOnline News)

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