Skydweller Aero's Solar-Powered Aircraft Achieves Autonomous Flight Milestone
The Skydweller Aero has successfully conducted the first fully autonomous flights of a solar-powered, heavy-payload, long-endurance, unscrewed aircraft.
Following its completion of a piloted circumnavigation of the world on solar power, the Solar Impulse 2 was acquired by Skydweller Aero in 2019.
By connecting flight-control computers to the existing mechanical controls, the Solar Impulse 2 was initially converted into an optionally piloted aircraft.
The aircraft, remotely piloted with three-dimensional guidance from the ground, demonstrated flight tests at Albacete Air Base in Spain.
An experimental airworthiness certificate was awarded to the aircraft by Spanish aviation regulator AESA after it was upgraded with a human-rated fly-by-wire system.
Although a safety pilot was on board, the aircraft was flown autonomously from takeoff to landing without pilot input in the initial validation flight tests.
After further software qualification and envelope expansion, the pilot is to be removed by Skydweller.
Utilizing its proprietary fly-by-wire actuation control system, Skydweller Aero Inc. has announced the successful completion of the first autonomous flight test demonstrations.
The Skydweller plans changes to improve the performance of the production aircraft, including weight reduction and the use of new solar cells.