AirMule Drone Ambulance Successfully Made Its Test Flight
AirMule test flight was successfully conducted on Wednesday, December 30. Tactical Robotics Ltd. the company that build the drone said that the drone is capable of carrying 1,000 lbs (500 kg) cargo for search and rescue operation.
Defense Update reported that AirMule was tested at the Megiddo airfield in northern Israel. The drone has shown its capability for Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL), followed by stability checks and forward flights at low speed.
AirMule was designed by Rafi Yoeli, a group leader at Israel Aircraft Industries and Senior Engineer at Boeing Aircraft and CEO of Urban Aeronautics, parent company of Tactical Robotics. In regards to another successful flight test of AirMule he said, "All in all, we expect that in 2016 we will finally be able to demonstrate some of AirMule's unique capabilities." As for the company's future plan he added, "With close to 200 flights on the AirMule prototype we are confident that this capability can be fielded in just a few years"
Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI), the company Rafi Yoeli worked for, is known for creating several drone for reconnaissance and surveillance purpose. The most well-known UAV from IAI is Super Heron, a long-endurance UAV that capable of 52 hours continuous flight. Rafi Yoeli founded AD&D Ltd and later founded Urban Aeronautics in pursuing his idea to build a flying car. His first design for AirMule was revealed in 2007, following the aftermath of 2006 Lebanon War, as IDF realized that it needed a special vehicle that could fly unmanned vehicle behind enemy lines to rescue wounded soldier.
AirMule was developed for that purpose, and Urban Aeronautics also has developed the variant for export purpose. Cormorant, the export variant has achieved 'category 2' certification under the international Missile Technology Control Regime (MCTR). Both Cormorant and AirMule are powered by a single Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 turboshaft, with 730 shaft horse power (shp) with maximum speed at 100 knots (115 mph) and operate at altitudes of up to 18,000 feet.
Urban Aeronautics is also working on compact, car-sized VTOL aircraft for civilians, called Metro Skyways. Daily Mail quoted the company's statement, "Metro Skyways is at an early stage of exploring business opportunities that will develop Urban's 'Fancraft' technologies into a family of safe, FAA certifiable personal and commercial, manned VTOL aircraft for the civil market."
Wired reported that Metro Skyways is a civilian-focused branch targeting the manned civil Air-Taxi as well as Air-Rescue and MedEvac markets.
AirMule will continue its test flight through 2016 before it is ready to be launched. Along with its export variant, Cormorant, the UAV is a breakthrough for a search and rescue operation in area unaccessible by helicopter.
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