Aurora Flight Science: Unmanned Aircraft Flight World Record 2014

Homeland Security Today Magazine – July 2015 Assignment

Kana M. Kennedy

Title: Unmanned Aircraft Flight World Record 2014

Aurora Flight Science (a leading manufacturer for unmanned aerial vehicles), announced Tuesday, July 14th, 2015 that the Orion medium-altitude aircraft had set the world record as the longest flight for an unmanned aircraft since the 2001 record holder, the Global Hawk.

Per the official announcement from Aurora Flight Science, “Aurora Flight Sciences announced today that on July 1, 2015 the company received official notification from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) that its Orion aircraft set the world record for duration of flight for a remotely controlled UAV. The record was awarded based on the aircraft’s 80 – hour, 2 – minute and 52- second flight that took place December 5 – 8, 2014. The previous record for the same class of unmanned aircraft was just over 30 hours, set by a Global Hawk in 2001.”

In addition to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) record holder award, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) would be formally recognizing the flight as an aviation milestone for 2014. The flight also placed Orion as a finalist for the prestigious Collier Trophy aviation award.

The Aurora Flight Science was quoted, “We’re thrilled to receive notification that FAI and NAA have officially recognized this groundbreaking development in unmanned flight,” said Dr. John Langford, chairman and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences. “The U.S. military put the challenge to Aurora to develop a long-endurance unmanned system that far exceeded the capabilities of existing technologies. Obviously, when taxpayer dollars are invested,the goal is not only to see if a long -endurance flight can be achieved, but to ultimately deploy the system in support of the American warfighter. We met and exceeded our customer’s requirements for the aircraft. The most important recognition for Orion will come whenthe aircraft is put to work meeting exactly what U.S. warfighter is calling for –unmanned, persistent surveillance of our enemies. We stand ready to meet this growing demand.”

The Orion aircraft uses standard aviation military fuels, unlike liquid hydrogen that has been used in high-altitude aircraft tests. The Orion also uses two Austro engines, per Flight International.

Per Aurora Flight Science, “In recent months,demand from U.S. national security leaders for long-endurance, or “persistent,” intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in an unmanned aircraft has been on the rise. Speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on June 10, 2015, House Defense Appropriations subcommittee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said “w

e believe that a strong intelligence,surveillance and reconnaissance capability is a critical component of the Global War on Terrorism. And yet, a succession of combatant commanders have testified that only a fraction of their ISR requirements are being met, in essence, leaving them blind to the enemy’s activities, movements and intentions.”

The Aurora Flight Science CEO, Dr. Langford ended with, “The global threat environment and related ISR requirements are evolving rapidly, and doing so in the context of deep budget cuts,” said Dr. John S. Langford, chairman and CEO of Aurora. “Our go -to -market strategy is grounded in the basic notion of a customer-driven contracting approach. We’re doing traditional sale and lease agreements, as well as company-owned and operated deals that allow the government customer to focus more on the acquisition of information, as opposed to airplanes.”

Northrop Grumman Global Hawk:

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Flight Global Orion:
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