What is it? ASTRAEA How it works The BAE Systems’ Jetstream, known as ‘The Flying Testbed’, is an aerial laboratory. It's a unique aircraft which has been developed to be flown by pilots or as an Uninhabited Air Vehicle (UAV). Racks of computers and control systems in the rear of the aircraft, together with satellite communications, mean it can fly as if it were a UAV without any input from the pilots. This year it will trial a range of new technologies to be developed under the ASTRAEA programme, including what is believed to be the world’s first autonomous weather avoidance system, in addition to ‘sense and avoid’ technologies and an autonomous emergency landing system. Weather avoidance test ASTRAEA Weather avoidance Using an ‘electronic eye’ mounted in the cockpit linked to computer systems and the ‘brains’ of the aircraft, the Jetstream will trial what is believed to be the world’s first autonomous weather avoidance system. This means recognising cloud types and plotting a course that allows evasive action. Sense and avoid test ASTRAEA Sense and avoid Avoiding other air traffic means a UAV needs to ‘see’ potential hazards. The BAE Systems’Jetstream will trial ‘sense and avoid’ technology using its Aircraft Identification Antenna to pick up aircraft transponder signals, and will use its ‘electronic eye’ to pick up ‘visual’ contact if no signals are being emitted. Emergency landing test ASTRAEA Emergency Landing If a UAV needs to make an emergency landing, it is essential it can do so without causing danger. The BAE Systems' Jetstream can test the systems which find safe landing areas by detecting and avoiding life on the ground. Controlled airspace ASTRAEA Test Flights in controlled airspace The Jetstream is expected to carry out over 20 test flights in 2012. Each flight will last around three hours. The aircraft will cover around 750 miles each time and fly between 5-15,000 feet. The Test Flights will mainly be carried out in Controlled Airspace over the Irish Sea. World first ASTRAEA Image detail 2 It is expected the trial flights will incorporate a number of firsts including:believed to be the world’s first use of autonomous, vision-based weather-avoidance routingthe first UK Surrogate flight of a fully functional visual sense-and-avoid systemthe first flight of an aircraft configured as a UAV, flying under Instrument Flight Rules under air traffic control in shared UK airspace.While only one or two of the technologies are world firsts, many will be UK firsts – and it will be the first time these technologies have been brought together.