Alenia, Selex Fly Three UAVs At Same Time in Civil Airspace


TURIN, Italy — The final demonstration of the SMAT F1 project (advanced land monitoring system, phase 1) was conducted successfully on Friday 30 September with aircraft flying over Levaldigi (CN), Benevagienna (CN) and Turin.

The project simulated a joint land-monitoring mission for civil purposes, based on three unmanned systems operating at different altitudes; Alenia Aeronautica’s Sky-Y, SELEX Galileo’s Falco (Both Alenia Aeronautica and SELEX Galileo are Finmeccanica Group companies) and the small C-Fly UAS from Nimbus.

This represents an important European record as it is the first time that several unmanned systems have operated:

— Jointly and at the same time in the same air space

— In a flight area that is not a military firing range

— Taking off from, and landing at, a civil airport

— In an area located over land and not over the sea. 

Also contributing to the result were Italy’s civil aviation authority ENAC and air traffic control body ENAV, which helped define the safety requirements and procedures necessary to obtain – for the first time in Italy – flight permission in a civil area, operating from a civil airport.

The SMAT F1 project, created under the promotional committee for the Piedmont aerospace cluster and co-financed by the Region of Piedmont through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), was developed by a working group coordinated by Alenia Aeronautica.

The group formed a temporary special-purpose consortium comprising large companies (Alenia Aeronautica, SELEX Galileo and Altec), scientific research institutes (Polytechnic of Turin, University of Turin and the Mario Boella Institute) and 11 small and medium-sized enterprises from Piedmont (Auconel, Axis, Blue Engineering, Carcerano, DigiSky, Envisens, Nautilus, Nimbus, Sepa, Synarea and SPAIC).

The main aim of the SMAT F1 project was to study and test a monitoring system for the prevention, emergency and territorial protection phases in a wide range of events such as floods, fires, landslides, traffic, town planning, pollution and farming. The monitoring system is to operate in an integrated manner with the authorities responsible for managing these events, providing them with timely information and real-time updates through a monitoring and coordination station.

Giuseppe Giordo, CEO of Alenia Aeronautica and Alenia Aermacchi and head of Finmeccanica’s Aeronautics division commented; “Alenia Aeronautica has added another important piece to the wider project of developing innovative unmanned systems, the most challenging technological frontier for aeronautics products in the 21st century”.

“This event has resulted in a real record for Finmeccanica and its aeronautics division. We’re committed to fostering innovation that will enable us to work with international partners to develop a competitive product in this promising market segment”.

Fabrizio Giulianini, CEO of SELEX Galileo, declared; “The Falco is the only tactical UAS entirely developed and manufactured by an European Company, from the aircraft to the sensors to the ground control station, sold abroad and used daily for surveillance operations. Within SMAT, the Falco system operates in a fully automated way in cooperation with other unmanned systems, with onboard radar and electro-optical sensor data contributing to the collection and real-time distribution of data relating to the over-flown area.

“The data transmitted to the ground is then viewed and further processed by the control station’s software, which is also part of SELEX Galileo’s contribution to the programme. SMAT has demonstrated in a real way the effectiveness of SELEX Galileo’s technological solutions, which are meeting with increasing success in the market.”

Sky-Y: Unmanned System for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Missions

The Sky-Y is the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) Alenia Aeronautica’s unmanned system, specifically developed as a demonstrator of innovative techniques and technologies for a future product able to cover both civil and military surveillance missions. 

Among the main platform’s objectives are the verification of the use of a structure made completely with Out Of Autoclave (OOA) carbon-fibre materials and the testing of the diesel propulsion technologies (common-rail of car derivation) for aeronautics. All this in order to minimise fuel consumption, keep operational costs low and use the same jet-aircraft fuels instead of the expensive and ever less used, high octane AVGAS.

The Sky-Y will also offer the opportunity to prove flight and mission control systems specifically devoted to surveillance missions (ad-hoc developed), payloads and various equipments for ground surveillance, data-links (from the Finmeccanica company SELEX Communications) and advanced sensor systems (from another Finmeccanica company, SELEX Galileo).

The previous Sky-Y test campaigns has allowed the demonstration of some automatic functions of the ground surveillance mission systems; these are key elements to fully assess the operational capabilities of a production system which will have in the future to be used for this role.

In the testing phase, during which the Sky-Y has reached a distance of up to 125 km from its Ground Control Station, the following tasks have been accomplished: automatic take-off and landing; functionalities of search, identification and surveillance of ground targets (open view and hidden, “hot” and “cold”, static or in motion); night flight and landing; real time capabilities of images’ reception and elaboration and their distribution to “customer” network, with video and infrared images’ transfer to the Civil Defence’s operations room of the Piedmont Region (through the satellite datalink system developed by Telespazio, a Finmeccanica/Thales company) and in conclusion datalink system’s performances.

The Sky-Y is the MALE platform selected for the SMAT (Advanced Environmental Monitoring System) regional research program, and selected for the MIDCAS (Mid Air Collision Avoidance System) European program.

By integrating Finmeccanica companies’ systems and capabilities, Alenia Aeronautica realizes with Sky-Y the vision of a national industrial capability able to autonomously develop in Italy technologies and complex systems as unmanned aircraft systems.   

Sky-Y preliminary data

Length: 9.7 m

Wing Span: 9.9 m

Empty Weight : 850 kg

Fuel + Payload: 350 kg

Take-off max weight: 1,200 kg

Cruise Speed: 140 Kts

Cruise Altitude: 25,000 Ft

Endurance: 14 hours

Range: 500 nautical miles