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Activity title

Flight Testing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

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Systems Concepts and Integration

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Autonomous, decision logic, Flight Test, guidance and control, human factors, relative maneuvering, test management, test safety, UAS, Unmanned


Unmanned aircraft are forming an increasing part of the air arms of NATO members. Flight testing of such platforms presents significant challenges in the areas of test safety, air vehicle performance testing, air vehicle guidance and control testing, testing of relative maneuvering (such as aerial refueling or landing aboard ship), autonomy, test management, and human factors. The advent of highly autonomous systems with onboard decision-making logic will add to the test complexity and challenges. The current AGARDogragh (AG-300-V27) is dated, limited in detail, targeted at the small UASs and does not address critical areas such as human factors in the control station and autonomy. This includes considerations for managing multi-shift operations, interleaving multiple tests to ensure the most from single test flight. Testers will need to verify that the autonomous decision-making logic is correct for the mission and the autonomous logic works and a correct and predictable manner. Several flight test organizations of NATO members have made progress toward developing and documenting flight test methods for unmanned aircraft.


The objective is to identify the flight test organizations that have developed and documented flight test methods and processes for unmanned aircraft, collect the accumulated documentation, word-of-mouth knowledge, to determine the need and participation to support an update to the existing AGARDograph (AG-300-V27) testing unmanned aircraft systems.


Topics will include: Historical Perspectives Safety Considerations Test Team Daily Operations Test Program Management Systems Integration Laboratory and Ground Testing Taxi Testing First Flight Fixed-Wing Stability, Control, and Handling Qualities Fixed-Wing Performance Rotary-Wing Stability, Control, and Handling Qualities Rotary-Wing Performance Lighter-Than-Air Platforms Small UAV Testing Dynamic Interface Aerial Refuelling Highly Autonomous Systems Human Factors Communications Systems External Connectivity Mission Planning Systems Future Developments Potential for AGARDograph and contributing nations.

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