UK-based aerospace companies Britten-Norman and Blue Bear are to jointly develop a
to make autonomous flight a reality by the mid 2020’s. Autonomous flight capabilities, alongside zero carbon air vehicles, will be necessary to make future regional aerial mobility affordable and improve interoperability.
60-year old firm Britten-Norman makes the Islander light utility aircraft, which is used for a variety of roles including regional commercial and military transport and was originally designed in the 1960s. A fleet of around 750 Islanders operates around the world today according to Britten-Norman.
The company is to partner with Blue Bear a developer of unmanned systems and air autonomy to automate the operation of a Britten-Norman Islander.
The project’s first milestone will be to demonstrate single pilot operations with an autonomous co-pilot providing assistance. The companies plan to for this autonomous co-piloted aircraft to enter service in the mid 2020s for regional air operators.
William Hynett, CEO of Britten-Norman said, “We have become used to the car of the future incorporating green and autonomous technology and the future of aviation will undergo a similar revolution. Blue Bear is the leading light when it comes to air autonomy technology, it is an absolute privilege to be partnering on this project and I look forward to our companies achieving great developments together.”
Yoge Patel, CEO of Blue Bear said, “We are delighted to be working with Britten-Norman, whose talent for rapidly turning new challenges into solutions for their customers is remarkable. We have found a kindred spirit, in so many aspects, with whom the next era of aviation can be genuinely realised. It’s a perfect match. Two agile SMEs with their own dedicated systems integration and flight test facilities can de-risk and flight prove innovations at an unprecedented pace.”