Aurora Flight Sciences has successfully demonstrated the automated flight capabilities of its aircrew labor in-cockpit automation system (ALIAS) on a Cessna Caravan aircraft.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) ALIAS was demonstrated by conducting basic manoeuvrers.

The system uses a robotic system that functions as a second pilot in a two-crew aircraft. It reduces crew operations, while maintaining and improving the aircraft performance and mission success.

Phase I of the ALIAS programme involved the development of a non-invasive, extensible automated system that was tested on both a simulator and in flight on a Diamond DA-42 aircraft.

The adaptability of the system was tested on the Cessna, as part of Phase II of the programme.

Work is currently underway on the installation of ALIAS system onto a third air vehicle, a Bell UH-1 helicopter.

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Aurora research and development vice-president John Wissler said: "Demonstrating our automation system on the UH-1 and the Caravan will prove the viability of our system for both military and commercial applications.

"Demonstrating our automation system on the UH-1 and the Caravan will prove the viability of our system for both military and commercial applications."

"ALIAS enables the pilot to turn over core flight functions and direct their attention to non-flight related issues such as adverse weather, potential threats or even updating logistical plans."

Aurora's solution uses in-cockpit machine vision, non-invasive robotic components to actuate the flight controls, an advanced tablet-based user interface, speech recognition and synthesis, and a 'knowledge acquisition' process that facilitates transition of the automation system to another aircraft within a 30-day period.

The company is currently developing a product based on ALIAS technology for transition to military and commercial customers.

Image: Aurora's ALIAS was demonstrated on a Cessna Caravan aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Aurora Flight Sciences.