Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Heron UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) has become the first unmanned aircraft to land at an international airport alongside commercial flights in civilian air space. The UAV took off from an airfield in Ein Shemer, landed at Ben Gurion International Airport, and flew back to Ein Shemer. All phases of the flight, including takeoff and landing, were controlled from a station at Ein Shemer.
The landing proves the reliability and safety of the Long Runner operating system developed by IAI, which uses satellite communications to provide automated takeoff and landing for UAVs undertaking long-range flights of up to 1500km and more.
Designed to carry out long-endurance strategic and tactical missions and to provide situational awareness for critical decision-making, the Heron platform has been used extensively by the air forces of several nations, including Israel and Germany. It can operate under severe weather conditions and carry multiple payloads as well as cargo weighing up to 290 kg.
Moshe Levy, IAI EVP and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group, commented: “IAI’s Heron UAV made a significant breakthrough today, landing for the first time at an international airport. The future of the world of aviation will need to allow unmanned aerial vehicles to land at civilian airports, and today this happened for the first time thanks to the hard and joint work of the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel and the Israel Airports Authority. This is a great achievement for IAI in the UAV arena.”