Calspan invests in drone technology

Calspan has announced the acquisition, modification, and certification of a long-range fixed-wing unmanned aircraft for the purposes of aerial surveying, LIDAR mapping, and 3D photography, the company said.

This new unmanned aircraft allows Calspan to enter emerging markets that service public utilities and government agencies.

Unique features of Calspan´s unmanned system consist of a 20+ hour flight duration, modular payload system, and fail-safe parachute recovery system. These features make the drone a safe, cost effective and flexible solution for customers seeking accurate, real-time data collection capability.

Calspan has also acquired the relevant licenses and approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial drone operations under CFR Title 14 Part 107. This step is required for safe operation of the drone within the national airspace system.

The drone operation will be based at Calspan´s 80,000 sq.ft. Aerospace facility at Niagara Falls International Airport, in Niagara Falls, New York. The drone will be transported to various locations in western New York and Pennsylvania for missions aimed at monitoring the status of pipelines, rights-of-way, waste storage facilities and other infrastructure components that belong to government agencies and public utility companies.

As a part of this project, Calspan is developing sensor payloads, beyond-line-of-sight communications systems, and other related equipment that can utilize the drone´s long range capability. In addition to conventional imaging, the sensor suite will include infrared photography, real-time video, LIDAR, and gas leak detection.

For more than 70 years, Calspan has been providing research and testing services in the aviation and transportation industries and is internationally recognized for research and innovation. Calspan is privately owned with its headquarters located in Buffalo, New York where they maintain a variety of testing facilities including a transonic wind tunnel, a vehicle crash test operation, a HYGE sled used for child seat testing, and a high performance tire testing facility. Calspan also operates a flight research and testing facility at the Niagara Falls International Airport where they own and operate a number of aircraft used as in-flight simulators and airborne testbeds. For more information about Calspan, visit http://www.calspan.com.