US Special Forces and their contractor chose the Surveyor special platforms for long-endurance surveillance missions. After a time of secret activities, SOCOM (U.S. Special Operations Command) confirmed to Aviation Week that Pipistrel’s specially prepared airframes was used with “sensors to collect full-motion video and signals intelligence“ on missions flown up to 30 hours and 30.000 ft. Yhe surveillance platforms can be deployed as OPVs or UAVs, and be fitted with a multitude of sensors, including EO/IR, Radar-based sensors and signals intelligence, with endurance ranging from 8 through 30+ hours at low, medium and high altitudes – all at a fraction of the cost of conventional solutions. With unique in-house capabilities Pipistrel also develops tailor-made OPV/UAV systems with advanced capability, including solutions for unmanned cargo delivery and VTOL capable vehicles, to bring unprecedented value and capabilities to customers.
Pipistrel aircraft, despite having an engine, were originally designed as gliders; this means they are able to perform many tasks with the engine switched off, completely silent over target, with a very low IR signature and radar reflection. Because of very low drag and power requirements, they can fly very long distances, have extreme endurances and can reach extreme altitudes.
These advantages have made the Pipistrel Aircraft also a perfect Surveyor Platform, a leading choice all over the world by civil authorities, special agencies, surveillance services and military operations. and anywhere a specially designed, individually customized platform is needed. The Pipistrel Surveyor family is based on the very successful SW airframe, the very same aircraft that NASA awarded first prize in both at the Personal Air Vehicle challenge in 2007 and at the General Aviation Technology challenge in 2008 and the foundation for EASA Type certified SW 121.
The Pipistrel Surveyor can be supplied as manned surveillance aircraft, UAV baseline platform, or an optionally piloted aircraft. Pipistrel Surveyors are ideal for a wide variety of aerial tasks because of their specific design characteristics and they have many advantages:
• They are much less expensive to operate and use unleaded automotive fuel or Avgas • They can take-off and land on grass or unprepared surfaces, not just hard runways • They are very quiet, more that 50% quieter than a normal small aircraft • In the air, they look like an inconspicuous sport/recreational aircraft and they are not treated suspiciously • When piloted their high wing offer ideal views of the ground through enormous transparent doors • They can be flown without the doors fitted, making them ideal so for visual aerial survey and hand photography • They can be equipped with tundra wheels that allow take-off and landing from unprepared surfaces, no airport is needed • They can be equipped with a ballistic rescue system, which saves the whole aircraft together with the crew if ever needed • They can carry many different payloads, sensors and surveillence systems • They can be easily dismantled in less than 15 minutes and stored in a dedicated trailer. Therefore, a hangar is not needed, and a regular vehicle can tow the aircraft in the trailer, no special transport is needed • Because of the specific design philosophy, they need much less power than other comparable aircraft and consequentially provide extreme flight range even in the standard, basic configuration.
Missions: The Pipistrel Surveyor offerings can be used for all the following missions, and more:
• Day and Night operations • Border Surveillance and Control • Locating poachers and unauthorised activity in National Parks and other wildlife areas • Homeland Security • Special Events Security • All kinds of Surveillance including communications interception • Moving target detection and tracking • Traffic Observation • Convoy protection • Power/Oil/Pipeline Monitoring • Fire/ Natural Disaster Management • Disaster Help – Civilian Support • Airborne Data Acquisition • Pollution Control • Crime prevention • Wildlife Management • Forest Protection and Management • Seaport monitoring • Maritime/Costal Patrol • SAR Operation and Victim discovery • All kind of aerial photography • Aerial cartography, 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional • 3D terrain scanning, mining surveys, excavation quantity calculations etc • 3D terrain modelling for future development, buildings, roads, railways etc
Pipistrel Platforms are highly efficient low-drag, high-wing composite construction monoplanes with a front mounted engine, and enhanced aerodynamics, which permit also for unpowered gliding flight with high performance. The high cantilever wing makes the platforms ideal for surveillance. They are proven in the hardest operating conditions all over the world with permitted temperature from -20°C to + 50 °C.
Any Pipistrel platform manned aircraft can be configured as an optionally piloted vehicle (OPV), meaning that the aircraft can be flown by an on-board pilot, should this be desired, or as a pure unmanned aerial system (UAV) i.e. never having a provision for a pilot/person on board. This decision must be made early in the process, as it heavily influences the design of the platform and its features.
Pipistrel can offer further specialised Surveyor customized platforms, adapted to customers special needs with aircraft capable of: • Flying at extreme altitudes (up to 30,000 feet) • With extra-long range (up to 4500 km) and • With endurance at cruise speed up to 30 hours • Capable of take-off and landing from airfields higher than 4.500 meters • MTOM up to 900 Kg. (Special designed platforms for even higher requests can be designed and produced for customers)
In its 30 years, Pipistrel has grown from an enthusiastic hobby hang-glider garage manufacture into a world-renowned small aircraft producer, recognised by leading global aviation authorities. With its revolutionary ideas, Pipistrel introduced composites to microlight and light sport aircraft, achieved first ever electric flight of a two- and four-seater, won all 3 NASA challenges and won the hearts of passionate aviators on all continents.
Ivo Boscarol has been actively involved in alternative aviation since 1975, when Slovenia was still a part of former Yugoslavia. In that time alternative and microlight flying was illegal – in fact it did not exist at all. The airfield Ivo was using belonged to the military, so the first alternative pilots, if they wanted to fly, had to do it in secret. They had to wait until pilots who flew conventional aircraft finished flying for the day, locked the hangar and went home, and then try to sneak in for an hour of flying before the darkness fell. Because they were flying so late in the evening, using lights at the front of their alternative aircraft, and because the powered hang-gliders had triangular-shaped wings, the local people started to call them “those bats”. The Latin word for a “bat” is “Pipistrellus”.
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