Korean Air successfully completed its initial flight of the 500MD unmanned helicopter, or KUS-VH, on July 30.
The initial flight of the 500MD unmanned helicopter lasted for about 30 minutes, completely unmanned, at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute's aviation center located in Goheung, South Jeolla Province.
The 500MD unmanned helicopter successfully conducted a flight in place after taking off 10 meters from the ground and hovering, proving the performance and safety of the unmanned flight control system.
Korean Air has been developing unmanned aerial vehicles for 500MD helicopters through technical development tasks of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy since 2014.
Korean Air plans to gradually expand its flight area and operational altitude by developing additional development to demonstrate its ability to operate mission equipment and flight performance of 500MD unmanned helicopters, reflecting customers' requirements for about two and a half years until the end of 2021.
Korean Air obtained special certificate of airworthiness from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration after conducting ground tests to check the performance of unmanned aerial vehicles such as remote start and safety line tests to ensure the operational safety of the flight control system.
The 500MD unmanned helicopter, which succeeded in the initial flight, is equipped with advanced flight control computer, tactical-class integrated navigation system, propulsion controller and electric-mechanical rotor actuator, and is expected to be used in various fields as it can be used for reconnaissance monitoring day and night through installation of mission equipment in subsequent development.
"We have been able to prove our technology of unmanned aerial vehicles through the initial flight of 500MD unmanned helicopters, and we expect unmanned fixed wing fighters such as F-5 as well as helicopters such as UH-1H and UH-60, to be possible in the future," said Kang Jong-gu, president of the Korean Air Institute of Aviation Technology.