Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) is planning to hold flight training sessions for large Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (commonly known as drones) at Twente Airport. Because operating large drones requires an airport with appropriate facilities, NLR chose Twente Airport as a training location because of its expansion of the Netherlands RPAS Test Centre (NRTC) in Marknesse.
NLR has been working on the development of large drones of approx. 4 by 4 metres as part of the EU CleanSky 2 SCALAIR (SCALed AIRcraft) project, which aims to design and build a flying scale model of a commercial aircraft. The purpose of developing the scale model is to demonstrate the relationship between the flight behavior of the scale model vs. the full-scale aircraft.
These developments are in line with NLR’s SMARD programme (Scale Model Aircraft Research & Development), and are also closely related to the NOVAIR project (Novel Aircraft Configurations and Scaled Flight Testing Instrumentation), through CleanSky 2. All these initiatives assist the development of hybrid commercial aircraft, contributing to a more sustainable aviation sector.
The free-flying dynamically scaled model is powered by two jet engines and will be relatively large and heavy (approx. 120 kg), the reason behind NLR setting up an intensive training course for its drone operators. The propeller trainer will primarily be deployed to let operators get used to the size of the aircraft and the heavier take-off weight. The jet trainer will be used to gain experience in operating scaled aircraft powered by jet engines.
The training flights with both the propeller trainer and the jet trainer are expected to start early summer 2017, aiming to be ready for the first real flight with the dynamically scaled commercial aircraft by the summer of 2018.
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