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FLARE: an optionally piloted aircraft for technology validation<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> an optionally piloted aircraft for technology validationFLARE: an optionally piloted aircraft for technology validation<p><span lang="EN-US">While the term “low cost” is easily associated to commercial air transportation in the common view of providing cheap flights to passengers, it may not be the case for flying experimental payloads. Indeed, flight tests are still very “high cost”, lengthy and risky activity and may easily turn into the worst nightmare for aerospace program managers. However, without going into real flight conditions, no aerospace technology can get the label “flight qualified” which opens the door to deploying technologies into real products.  Being more and more involved in R&TD projects requiring flight test demonstration, the Italian Aerospace Research Center (CIRA) has developed a different approach in order to get rid of the cost and the logistic burdens typically associated to flight experiments without losing significance in the research outcome.  Thanks to the support of the National aerospace research program PRORA, CIRA has developed an Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) derived by a commercial, off-the-shelf, ultra-light aircraft, a TECNAM P92-Echo S. The aircraft, which was named FLARE (which stands for Flying Laboratory for Aeronautical Research), has been modified to perform as a flying test bed capable to provide flight validation of autonomous flight technologies, to test traffic separation scenario based on ADS-B technology and improve weather-forecast satellite based systems. CIRA also plans to use FLARE, in future, for the development of aero-structural innovative technologies such morphing wing and propulsion, as part of the Italian Aerospace Research program (PRORA). In order to get the authorization to fly the modified aircraft under the current Italian airworthiness regulation, CIRA has coordinated a complex technical effort which included design, modifications as well as continuous airworthiness of the basic aircraft and its systems, producing the necessary documentation to ensure the compliance to the CS-VLA (Very Light aircraft) certification regulation, adopted as a reference. This technical process involved the contributions of nearby airframe manufacturers such as TECNAM and OMASUD, the local Flying Club and external consultants for the development of the necessary documentation contributing to the Safety of Flight assessment issued under CIRA responsibility.   Thanks to a fruitful technical cooperation with the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), CIRA has achieved the relevant Permit to Fly (PTF) on April 14, 2016. The permit, valid for one year, has been issued on the basis of the system and safety documentation produced by CIRA in accordance with the recent ENAC NAV32E regulation relevant in-flight testing activities.  As soon as the PTF was available, CIRA started an intensive test campaign, which included a maximum of 38 experimental flights, operating the aircraft from the local Capua airport (ICAO LIAU).</span></p>2016-11-21T23:00:00Z

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