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Indra’s Unmanned Pelican System Obtains Experimental Airworthiness Certificate


The Pelican unmanned aircraft system (UAS) developed by Indra has received the Special Airworthiness Certificate (CAEE) by the State Aviation Safety Agency, a body within the Ministry of Public Works, to perform integration, test and demo flights.

The certificate, first awarded in Spain for rotary wing UAS, implies that the Pelican system complies with quality and security standards similar to those of manned aircrafts and that the operation is fully safe under the flight conditions defined by AESA. Such milestone opens the door in Spain to flight testing and integration of subsystems and equipment with all the guarantees and in full compliance with the Air Navigation Act.

The Pelican project, with a technical followup by the Ministry of Defence, will reinforce Indra’s position in an obvious strategic field such as rotary-wing unmanned systems. This field possesses commercial potential in the international market. The certificate allows meeting the expected schedule of events hence the system will be fully into service by 2012.

The Pelican is a rotary-wing unmanned aircraft with Automatic Vertical Take-Off and Landing (AVTOL) features and capable of carrying all sorts of useful equipment (electro-optics, radar, signal intelligence, CBRN sensors, etc) up to 50 kg. Flight duration is over 6 hours with electro optical payload and is equipped with two types of engines, one for gas and the other one with Jet propellant 5 for naval purposes.

The Pelican system is based on the APID60 platform, developed by Swedish Cybaero, and is designed to engage in a wide variety of missions, either military or civil. It is prepared to protect bases, critical infrastructures or convoys, border surveillance, emergency management (forest fires, floods, technology disasters, etc.) coastal search and rescue, surveillance in trans-boundary waters, allowing remote sensing functions beyond human range. The information gathered by the system is transmitted in real time to the control and command centres.

Leaders in UAV

The increasing needs of remote sensing functions during sustained operations, has boosted the use of unmanned aerial vehicles as the ideal platforms. Indra’s experience and knowledge in the electro-optical systems and radars contribute to Research and Development in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) sector.

Indra has successfully led along with Cassidian (EADS Security and Defence Divison) the startup of the first tactical UAV system which the Spanish Army has used in a real scenario and is currently into service in Afghanistan. The company has also developed a tactical system called Albhatros based on fixed-wing aircrafts and the Mantis mini UAVs.

Within the Atlante programme led by Cassidian for the development of a tactical long-range UAV, the Spanish company is in charge of the communications systems, electro-optical sensors, identification (IFF) and the image exploitation software.

In addition to this, Indra is engaged along with Cassidian and Thales in the design of the AURA radar which will be employed by strategic UAVs and in the development of the HORUS radar to be embarked on helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Spanish company also participates in the MIDCAS European project, which seeks to develop a Sense & Avoid system for UAVs to detect and avoid other aircraft in civil air space automatically. Finally in 2010 Indra was awarded a contract with the European Space Agency in cooperation with the European Defence Agency to study the possibility of UAVs to coexist with civil aircraft in air space by using satellite communications systems.

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