Hermes 900 Starliner certified to operate in civilian airspace

By Arie Egozi

Israeli company Elbit Systems was granted the first ever dual military and civilian certification for an unmanned aerial system (UAS).

The Hermes 900 Starliner received these type certifications by the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority (CAAI) on December 26, 2021, and by the Swiss Military Aviation authority (MAA) on December 21, 2022.

This is an additional step towards fully integrating unmanned aerial systems into the civil airspace in Europe.

The approval granted to a UAS to fly above populated areas and in any civilian airspace enables governments as well as international and commercial organizations to incorporate large, long-endurance unmanned aircraft in missions that before were only performed by manned aircraft.

The receipt of the Type Certificate from the MAA completes the compliance of Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 Starliner UAS with the NATO standardization (STANAG 4671) to approve the UAS to meet the harsh airworthiness requirements and ensures maximum safety for the country operating it.

The Hermes 900 Starliner UAS is the only NATO Class III UAS that carries such certifications and was able to obtain the dual certifications after a lengthy process of development and testing that included multiple audits, laboratory tests, ground tests and intensive flight tests.

Elbit Systems has integrated advanced civil aviation technological capabilities onboard the Hermes 900 Starliner UAS, to meet the certification standards. These technologies include a terrain avoidance warning system; automatic redundant take-off and landing in harsh visibility; redundant avionics, sensors and satellite data links; as well as adverse weather capabilities, direct lightning strike sustainment, flight in denied / Jammed GPS environment, automatic air traffic sensing and avoiding systems, auto-maneuvers and last resort parachute to avoid injuries to human lives.

With a wingspan of 17 meters and weighing over a ton, the platform is capable of up to 36 hours of continuous flight at an altitude of up to 30,000 ft. and can carry an additional 450 kg of payloads.

The Company has been contracted to date by the Canadian Ministry of Transportation and the Swiss Federal Department of Defense to supply the Hermes 900 Starliner UAS. At the end of 2022, the Company delivered the first three UAS to Switzerland which has recently begun operational use of the platform.

Elbit Systems provides other variants of the Hermes 900 UAS to a dozen additional countries.

According to Omri Knoller , VP starliner MALE programs, the Starliner is identical to the Herms-900 only in its aerodynamics ” all the other features including avionics and software are different to meet the civil certification requirements ”

He added that while flying in civil airspace the Starliner appears on the screens of the air controllers, like any other aircraft. “When a situation is created when the Starliner has to change course or altitude the air control talks with the UAS operator through its communications system ”

Knoller added that the full certification opens a potential market for the Starliner in Europe but not only.

“The ability to operate such a UAS in civil airspace is seen by many countries as an important advantage”



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