Skyryse, a transportation company, today unveiled the Skyryse Flight Stack, a suite of automation technologies that will help the company make safe urban flight mainstream. The Skyryse Flight Stack comprises technology that automates flight in FAA-approved helicopters, safety and communication systems, and a network of smart helipads to ultimately create a new transportation system in the sky. The company also demonstrated the Flight Stack in action, completing the world’s first fully autonomous flight – without a pilot’s hands on the controls or remote operator – in a modified FAA-approved commercial helicopter.
Urban air mobility promises a new transportation future, but short-distance flying has traditionally been too expensive for mass adoption. Automating critical parts of flight will make flying more affordable; however, wide urban flight usage also requires a safety and communications network that works as reliably and safely as commercial airline flight today. The Skyryse Flight Stack is the first step in creating an entirely new urban aviation system that will allow for safe mass deployment.
“Today, we design our lives around traffic and make decisions about where we live and work based on how hard it is to get there. Urban air mobility can change that and finally let us be in control of transportation, not the other way around,” said Mark Groden, Skyryse CEO and founder. “To get there, we need to make urban flying as safe as riding an elevator and as accessible and affordable as riding a bus. This requires automating flight as well as entirely new communications and safety systems. Skyryse aims to operate a fleet of aircraft powered by our technology. Our current autonomous flying capabilities and the Skyryse Flight Stack are giant steps forward in this new transportation system. At Skyryse we’re proud that the success of this automated flight, combined with our unique tech stack, means we’re not just leading the pack, we’re redefining the race.”
Unlike other companies building autonomous vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft from scratch or only for the military, Skyryse refits existing consumer-grade, dependable and certified aircraft and technologies with software and hardware innovations. The Skyryse Flight Stack is initially designed for the Robinson R-44, an FAA-approved helicopter in wide use today. Each component of the system works in triplicate with airline-grade, fail-operational technology to ensure that automation functions remain operational at all times, even in the presence of equipment failures.
The Skyryse Flight Stack is operable today and comprises these components:
- Simplified flight controls – Technology that enables the aircraft to fly entirely autonomously or to automate aspects of a flight, similar to cruise control for cars, under high-level guidance from the pilot.
- Airline grade, fail-operational flight control automation – A supervisory system of sensors that helps steer, stabilize and direct the aircraft, while monitoring other flight data.
- Envelope protection and emergency management – This additional sensor and data processing layer constantly monitors the aircraft’s movement to ensure no actions are taken that exceed safety limits, especially in emergency situations.
- Smart Helipads – These first-of-their-kind ground-based sensor stations extend the communications network and monitor in real-time critical information the aircraft needs to know, like wind and weather conditions, to ensure a safe flight. It also detects and communicates any low flying objects in the air such as drones and birds.
- Air Network Management – This traffic control network is designed to operate at scale and integrates with existing FAA networks. The system communicates flight paths, timing, altitude and other critical flight plan data.
In 2019, Skyryse made key executive hires to develop the Skyryse Flight Stack. Former Moog Chief Technology Officer Dr. Gonzalo Rey joined the company as CTO. At Moog, Dr. Rey played a key role in many of the company’s historic engineering achievements, including overseeing the flight control actuation systems for the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. JetSuite Air and JetBlue co-founder Brian Coulter joined as Skyryse Air’s Chief Operating Officer. Coulter is a seasoned aviation industry operator, having served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force before JetBlue and JetSuite Air. Their expertise will lead the company to its next phase of growth.
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