Reliable Robotics, a leading player in autonomous aircraft systems, announced that it has received military airworthiness approval to begin flight testing and operational missions of its remotely piloted Cessna 208 Caravan cargo aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.
According to a press release from the company, this milestone represents an elevated level of engagement with the Department of Defense (DoD) as Reliable Robotics is now equipped to showcase its dual-use automated flight capabilities tailored to military applications, including cargo missions.
Dr. David O’Brien, Major General (Ret.) and Senior Vice President of Government Solutions at Reliable Robotics, emphasized the significance of this achievement, stating, “Nothing compares to showcasing how our autonomous flight capabilities will immediately enable new ways for the U.S. Air Force and other departments of the military to lead with innovation, improve safety and project power across the globe.”
DoD airworthiness policies mandate that all aircraft and air systems intended for Air Force use undergo a rigorous airworthiness assessment in accordance with Air Force standards. In compliance with these requirements, Reliable Robotics conducted a comprehensive safety analysis, maintenance and operational evaluations, and testing of the automated flight technologies. This airworthiness accomplishment represents a pivotal milestone within Reliable’s Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract.
Hank “Hog” Griffiths, AFWERX Airworthiness and Test Lead, commented on the significance of this achievement, stating, “Our AFWERX partners are developing exciting automation technologies through robust engineering and flight test campaigns. The technology is maturing rapidly, and this airworthiness approval for a certified aircraft retrofitted with an autonomous flight system provides significant opportunities for the military.”
Reliable Robotics has been collaborating with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and AFWERX since 2021, involving SBIR awards and a comprehensive study on large aircraft automation. In 2023, Reliable demonstrated automated flight capabilities to military personnel as part of the Golden Phoenix exercise at Travis Air Force Base.