SOMERSET WEST, South Africa. Engineers at Stemme AG in Strausberg, Germany, integrated into the ECARYS ES15aircraft electronics subsystems from S-PLANE Automation (Pty) Ltd. in Somerset West, South Africa, transforming the plane into an optionally piloted vehicle (OPV), commonly called a drone.
The OPV is a versatile air vehicle combining the benefits of a manned aircraft with those of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), also known as an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). As a manned aircraft, the OPV can execute missions that demand human judgment and control, such as flight in civil airspace, flight over congested areas, flying at low level, and transporting passengers.
S-PLANE’s aircraft electronics solution includes the ground control station and is suitable for a variety of mission profiles. When the pilot is removed from the cockpit, the system can perform unmanned missions which require extreme endurance or are more dangerous to perform, such as: critical infrastructure protection and surveillance, border and maritime patrol, cargo delivery, firefighting, and hazardous material (HAZMAT) containment.
The ECARYS ES15 is a certified high-performance aircraft platform with a 770 pounds (350 kilogram) payload capacity and a 1,350 nautical mile (nm, or 2,500 km) range. The efficient operational platform is characterized by low fuel consumption, low noise emission, and low maintenance requirements, officials say. Its low radar and minimal infrared (IR) signature make it an ideal platform for surveillance missions.
The automated version of the ES15 is suitable for a large variety of payloads, flexibly deployed on the airframe as missions demand. The aircraft can operate in mission-driven mode where the entire flight from automated take-off to automated landing is directed by the on-board control systems.
Alternate landing sites, escape routes, and emergency handling procedures are defined in the mission profile to ensure safe operation under varying conditions. A remote pilot can take control of the aircraft at any time, altering the mission or interactively controlling the aircraft and payload. High-bandwidth line-of-sight links provide real-time payload video at the ground control station while beyond-line-of-sight operation is enabled via satellite links and a mesh radio network.
Stemme AG, founded in 1984, is a certified aircraft design and manufacturing company active in sports aviation and utility aircraft. Over 300 aircraft have been delivered worldwide.
ECARYS, a wholly owned Stemme AG subsidiary, is dedicated to serve customers in the utility aircraft business and provides aircraft platforms for aerial surveillance, reconnaissance, and scientific research missions.
S-PLANE Automation (Pty) Ltd is an internationally recognized South African aerospace and defense company specializing in product supply and development for autonomous systems and related subsystems. S-PLANE focuses on optionally piloted vehicles (OPVs) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and their navigation, flight control and mission management subsystems, including ground support elements. Product and development scope spans both the civil and military markets, and also extends to autonomous land and sea surface vehicles and their subsystems.
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