Leonardo-Finmeccanica has started flight testing of its SW-4 Solo remotely piloted helicopter to verify the aircraft’s operational characteristics and validate flight procedures, in both normal and emergency conditions.

The testing is being carried out at the Taranto-Grottaglie Airport, in collaboration with Distretto Tecnologico Aerospaziale Pugliese (DTA) and the Italian Civil Aviation Authority.

This flight campaign will continue until early next year, Leonardo said in a statement.

Leonardo-Finmeccanica CEO and general manager Mauro Moretti said: “The SW-4 Solo is testimony of Leonardo’s industrial commitment and innovation in unmanned aircraft, a sector of increased global competition and is part of a portfolio of solutions making Leonardo the only European company able to provide a complete ‘unmanned’ system.

"The rotary unmanned air system can be operated with or without pilot on board."

“When presented with an advancement of technology, the winning regions are those who can adapt to market needs.”

The Solo is based on the SW-4 helicopter produced by Leonardo and is equipped with advanced systems and sensors.

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The rotary unmanned air system can be operated with or without pilot on board.

It has been designed to perform a wide range of activities such as hydrological and critical infrastructure monitoring, firefighting, search-and-rescue, patrol, and disaster relief activities.

Leonardo demonstrated the capabilities of SW-4 Solo at the UK Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise that was held in Scotland during October.