“Flight testing an innovative new solution like Global Observer involves pushing the frontiers of technology and convention,” says Tim Conver, AeroVironment chairman and chief executive officer. “Risk is a component of every flight test program, and the learning that results from a mishap enables us to improve system reliability and performance. One benefit of testing an unmanned aircraft system is that pilots and crew are not in harm’s way when a mishap occurs.
“We will work closely with the Investigation Board to determine the cause of the mishap and once its findings are available we will apply its recommendations to future activities. Global Observer remains a compelling solution to important government and commercial needs,” Conver adds.
The joint U.S. government and AeroVironment Global Observer team was expanding the flight envelope of the first air vehicle, which had been operating for nearly twice the endurance and at a higher altitude than previous flights when the mishap occurred. The second air vehicle developed as part of the joint capability technology demonstration (JCTD) program is nearly complete and remains at AeroVironment’s development facility.
AV received the contract for developing and demonstrating Global Observer as a JCTD program in September 2007. Six U.S. government agencies have provided more than $140 million in funding for the program, most of which has been expended.