EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Wyle has signed an agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop formal flight and sensor operator training courses designed to enhance the proficiency and competence of Air Force Research Laboratory small unmanned aircraft systems flight operations with the goal of minimizing unmanned aircraft mishaps.
Wyle and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio will develop and validate detailed training, operations and related documentation for a radio-controlled aircraft system to support Department of Defense and other Federal agency intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and force protection missions.
"The objective of the agreement is to develop a commercial version of the AFRL small unmanned aircraft system for potential certification by the Federal Aviation Administration in the experimental aircraft category," said Sam Carbaugh, who has led the project for Wyle. "This will assist in enabling both government and civilian use of small unmanned aircraft for research and development, flight demonstrations and aircrew training."
The agreement transfers government aircraft technology directly to Wyle, enabling the company to provide training and cost-saving benefits to the Air Force. Development of a commercial small unmanned aircraft systems training course will also allow AFRL personnel to receive small unmanned aircraft systems flight qualification training during the course development phases and to obtain flight training on an as-needed basis without using limited and valuable research aircraft.
"Once we've proven our work with AFRL, Wyle plans to offer the training to other DoD operations, government agencies and contractors," said Carbaugh. "As the military and other government agencies move towards more use of unmanned aircraft, there is a growing need for an adequate training program."
To support the training portions of the program, Wyle will build and operate two aircraft, each weighing approximately 20 pounds with a wing span of approximately six feet. The aircraft are significantly modified versions of a common model radio controlled aircraft which AFRL uses for various sensor and flight control research projects.
The aircraft will be operated by a ground control unit with operator controls and a laptop computer which will program the aircraft and record operational data. An optical camera system will be installed as a sensor system.
Adaptation of commercially available hobby aircraft with advanced navigation, communications and computer flight controls for use in aviation sensor technology research has resulted in various configurations of aircraft that have proven reliable and useful. Wyle will evaluate these variants to select a configuration suitable for the formal training of small unmanned aircraft systems operators, observers and payload controllers.
Wyle is a leading provider of high tech aerospace engineering and information technology services to the federal government on long-term outsourcing contracts. The company also provides biomedical and engineering services for NASA's human space missions; test and evaluation of aircraft, weapon systems, networks, and other government assets; and other engineering services to the aerospace, defense, and nuclear power industries.