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Aerosonde Mk4 UAV Sets New Endurance Mark

File photo: An Aerosonde UAV. Copyright Jon Becker, Aerosonde Pty Ltd.
by Staff Writers
Victoria, Australia (SPX) May 08, 2006
Flying from the Aerosonde test facility in western Victoria, a Mk4 Aerosonde UAV today set an unofficial1 world endurance record of 38 hrs and 48 minutes. The current official record is 30 hrs and 24 minutes held by the Northrop Grumman Ryan Aeronautical RQ- 4A "Global Hawk".

The flight took place as a cold front passed through the region. Special Projects Manager and team leader, Maurice Gonella reported: "Winds at times were higher than the ideal cruise speed of the aircraft and so, coupled with a wet airframe and turbulent conditions, maximum endurance was reduced from our target of 40 hours".

Aerosonde 157 (Piccolo II 1032) Launched at 0637 UTC and landed at 2119 and landed on Wednesday May 3 at 2119 for a total of 38 hours and 48 minutes. It was Aerosonde 157's maiden flight and is the first Aerosonde flight to witness 2 sunrises. Fuel consumption during the mission ranged from 207 down to 122 gm/hour.

The Mk4 Aerosonde includes the Cloud Cap Technology Piccolo II avionics, and Aerosonde wishes to thank Ross Hoag and Bill Vaglienti of Cloud Cap Technology for their support in making the achievement possible. Ross commented: "The endurance achievement outlined above is particularly gratifying for Bill and I; it feels like we've comefull circle with Piccolo flying in the Aerosonde. A 38-hour maiden flight, first flight on both the airframe and avionics, is impressive and shows the maturity level of the individual systems".

Modifications to the UAV to enable the endurance attempt included tuning of the EFI engine, weight reduction and improvements to the aerodynamic efficiency of the UAV. These modifications were lead by final year Monash University Aeronautical Engineering student, Cameron Devries and many of these enhancements will be available immediately in the Mk4 product line. Aerosonde are aiming at further endurance attempts in the near future with the goal of attaining 48 hours flight.

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Boeing Phantom Works to Lead Research On X-48B Blended Wing Body Concept
Hampton VA (SPX) May 08, 2006
In cooperation with NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the Phantom Works organization of Boeing is taking another step toward exploring and validating the structural, aerodynamic and operational advantages of a futuristic aircraft design called the blended wing body, or BWB.

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