Alenia Aeronautica: First Flight for the Next-Generation Unmanned Aircraft Sky-Y
(Source: Alenia Aeronautica; issued June 21, 2007)
The Sky-Y unmanned demonstrator developed by Italy’s Alenia seen during its first flight in Vidsel, Sweden. (Alenia Aeronautica photo)

ROME --- First flights for the new Sky-Y, the operational demonstrator for a new-generation unmanned aircraft, presented for the first time to the public during the Le Bourget Air Show, in Paris.

The Sky-Y made its first flight at Vidsel Base in Sweden, successfully completing a series of three take-off runs and then, in flight, tests for stability, manoeuvrability, acceleration, engine and propeller performance, reaching a maximum altitude of 3000 feet and a speed of 110 ktas. During the flight, no faults were registered and the performances were better than expected.

The experimental data recorded during the flight will be the basis for the operational envelope expansion of the aircraft, which will be able to carry out surveillance missions of over 12 hours at an altitude of 8000 m.

The Sky-Y is the first unmanned surveillance vehicle, in the Medium Altitude Long Endurance class been conceived, designed and produced – in less than a year – by Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company.

The flight marked the happy outcome of twelve months of strong efforts of Alenia Aeronautica team that had already followed the development and testing of another unmanned aerial vehicle technological demonstrator, the Sky-X, the first aircraft in the over-one-ton weight class to fly in Europe.

The Sky-Y weighs about one ton and is powered by a diesel engine of automotive derivation. It will be able to experiment all critical technologies, propulsion, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors, datalinks and systems for next generation MALE unmanned aircraft, among which, in particular, the Molynx, an aerial vehicle for land surveillance and protection, under development at Alenia Aeronautica, and an innovative system, also under development, with military aims, in a class comparable or superior to the most advanced systems available on the market today.

One of the main Sky-Y goals is the verification of the light structures use of all-carbon-fibre and the testing of diesel propulsion technologies for the aeronautical field. All this in order to minimise fuel consumption, reduce operational costs and use the same fuel as jet aircraft instead of the expensive, polluting and ever less common patrol for aeronautical use.

Thanks to this further success, Alenia Aeronautica confirms its European leadership in this aircraft class, sealed during this Bourget Air Show by the signature of a cooperation agreement with the French company Dassault and the Swedish manufacturer SAAB for the development of a new generation of systems, believed to be highly strategic for the future of the European aeronautical industry, capable of meeting and anticipating the emerging world market requirements.


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