Sky opens up to new pilotless aircraft

Minsk Aircraft Repair Plant to establish mass production of pilotless aircraft
By Vladimir Kharlamov

The enterprise has already finished the first stage of test flights for its ‘Philin’ unmanned aircraft system which included automatic take-off, en-route flight and landing. Belarusian KVAND IS enterprise is responsible for the automatic control system of the pilotless aircraft, after almost a decade of development and almost $500,000 spent. The unmanned aircraft system consists of the control point, technical maintenance point and the ‘Sterkh-BM’ pilotless aircraft device. It is designed to monitor remote areas of the Earth, including the water, and can tow aviation targets. The apparatus can be controlled manually via radio communication, as well as by software for autopilot.

The pilotless aircraft weighs 65kg and is able to gain up to 120km/h at cruise speed, to a maximum of 200km/h. It can cover 240km and operates best at a height of 3km. Its wingspan is 3.8m. Its initial cost stands at about $250,000 but can be upgraded to a cost of $500,000. A complete complex, with several aircraft devices can be bought for $1.5m.

Yevgeny Vaitsekhovich, the Director General of Minsk’s Aircraft Repair Plant, notes that mass production of the ‘Sterkh-BM’ is set for 2013, with volumes dependent on orders. Annually, up to ten devices could be manufactured. Its developers note that the Belarusian pilotless aircraft boasts a range of advantages. In particular, it can override an operator’s error, via self-checking. It is simple to manage, and can fly and land under difficult weather conditions and at night. Moreover, it boasts high accuracy and can even land on ordinary roads (where at least 5m is available) as well as at small aerodromes and other sites with a suitably flat surface.
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