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Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Honeywell will jointly develop a sense-and-avoid (SAA) capability for IAI’s Heron family of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Approved for funding from the Bi-national Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation, the system will be demonstrated for the first time on the Heron Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) UAS platform in 2018. BIRD selected the team following a competitive review process that evaluated projects from many companies.

The joint project will provide a SAA capability on a Heron MALE. The system concept includes Honeywell-developed software, algorithms, hardware and the fusion of inputs from various sensors embedded in a single prototype box or Line-Replaceable Unit (LRU); it also includes IAI’s separation and collision avoidance maneuvering logic and Ground Control Station (GCS) pilot interface. The LRU will be flight tested onboard IAI’s Heron UAV for the first time through the BIRD program. It will show improved situational awareness through the tracking of other nearby aircraft, allowing the UAS collision avoidance maneuvering and suggest alternate flight maneuvers, resulting in a safer airspace.

The demonstrations and flight tests planned for mid-2018 will be conducted on the IAI Heron 1 UAS. The development work will be executed in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Minneapolis; and Redmond, Washington, as well as in Tel Aviv, Israel. Flight testing will take place in Israeli airspace. Both companies plan for the full sense-and-avoid solution to be integrated into the Heron family of MALE UAS. In the near term, the work will set the foundation for safe operation and integration of unmanned aircraft in civilian airspace, and will contribute to policies and procedures allowing for certification of avionics and platform systems.

With the introduction of UASs in the national airspace, Honeywell and IAI recognized the need for making the airspace safer. Honeywell’s development of a common sense-and-avoid system started years ago to meet this anticipated need, and the concept continues to be refined through flight test demonstrations.  

IAI’s Heron Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAS is fully operational with 20 customers worldwide. With over 200,000 accumulated flight hours, Heron has a proven record in military, security and civilian applications. It has been granted airworthiness approvals and certificates by military and civilian aviation authorities worldwide.