Merlin Successfully Completes FAA-Contracted, Alaska-Based Flight Trials For Nation’s First Air Cargo Network Flown by a Non-Human Pilot

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Merlin, the aviation technology company developing the world’s most capable pilot to advance the future of automated flight, today announced it successfully completed 25 test flights in Alaska following a $1 million contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to demonstrate a highly-automated flight control system in conjunction with a safety pilot. In partnership with the FAA-designated University of Alaska Fairbanks UAS Test Site and Everts Air Cargo, the test flights reached rural areas using crewed aircraft augmented with its integrated hardware and software solution, the Merlin Pilot.

“Operating in Alaska is a real challenge. I like to say we’re on the final exam. If you can fly here you can fly anywhere as we deal with long distances, extreme climate variations, and limited communications coverage”

All routes originated from Fairbanks and flew to Fort Yukon, Galena, Huslia, Tanana, and Prudhoe Bay. Over sixty hours of systems-on, autonomous flight time were successfully completed with the Merlin Pilot allowing for extensive data collection in a real-world environment with complex terrain and inclement weather. This data is essential to maturing Merlin’s in-flight capabilities as well as progressing autonomy for the aviation industry, making skies safer and more accessible in the future. These test flights also make Merlin the first autonomy system to be integrated into the NAS.

“Operating in Alaska is a real challenge. I like to say we’re on the final exam. If you can fly here you can fly anywhere as we deal with long distances, extreme climate variations, and limited communications coverage,” said Dr. Cathy Cahill, Director of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI) at the UAF Geophysical Institute. “As we’ve learned in collaboration with Merlin’s team, it’s very apparent that they are doing this right. Their integrated approach to our unique ecosystem is one of the main reasons they were the first company with which we approached the FAA. They use real data to train the onboard automation system to ensure safety.”

“The data we’ve been able to gather from these flight trials is critical to the maturation of our in-flight technology, but also to our continued progression in certifying the Merlin Pilot,” said Matthew George, co-founder, and CEO of Merlin. “It’s exciting to know our technology can successfully reach remote locations in Alaska, proving an important application for autonomy; its ability to assist in dangerous missions. We’re incredibly thankful for the support and partnership of the FAA, Everts Air Cargo, and ACUASI. Our partners have been critical in our ability to progress the Merlin Pilot.”

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Devender was born in the year when the Beatles Group was formed. He holds two master’s degrees in English Literature and Public Administration. He also has an Honors degree in English Literature and a post-graduate diploma in Corporate Communications and Public Relations. He was closely associated with the Indian State Transport Undertakings and Ministry of Transport in his role as Corporate Communications and PR specialist for over two decades handling domestic and international organizations. He ventured into business forming his own Media House, Profiles Media Network Private Limited which is now a twenty years old company. Excelling as an editor, Marketing, PR, Anchor, and Advertising specialist, he is now expertly navigating the world of social media. A widely traveled professional internationally, Devender has a deep understanding of the Air Cargo, Cargo Business, Cargo Airports, Freighters and Cargo Industry at large.