Modifications: Aurora Flight Science, Manassas, USA
Capacity: 1 pilot und 3 passengers (see text for further configurations of OPA)
Construction year: 2012
Number of procured aircraft: 1
The Diamond DA42 Centaur OPA does not belong to the inventory of the Swiss Air Force and is flown by armasuisse pilots only.
On 28 November 2012, the first Centaur OPA, coming from the USA, landed at the Emmen air base and was delivered to armasuisse. Switzerland is thus the first customer for this advanced technology platform ‘Centaur OPA’ that has been developed by Aurora Flight Science in Manassas (USA).
As assigned by the Armed Forces Staff armasuisse is testing with these Centaur OPA sensors which could be deployed on future UAV systems. The project is primarily aimed at certifying ‘sense and avoid’ with a view to authorisation a future drone for all Swiss airspace categories, day and night, without OMBRA, as well as the expertise for deployment of payloads relating to SAR/SIGINT, testing SOA concepts (service oriented architecture) and SatCom operations. In a primary phase, work will be done that relates mainly to ‘sense and avoid’ procedures for unmanned aircraft.
The twin engine Centaur OPA (optionally piloted aircraft) is based on the Austrian Diamond DA42 MPP Guardian plane ( www.diamond-sensing.com ). OPA enables operation in three modes: manned, hybride and unmanned. In the ‘hybride’ mode the aircraft is remote controlled by a crew in a ground control station and has in addition a backup pilot on board, who can take over the controls if necessary. This operational mode provides the best conditions for testing, validating and certifying new avionics concerning ‘sense and avoid’ (automatic detection and evasion of other aircraft). ‘Sense and avoid’ -test flights in the ‘hybrid’ mode were started already at the beginning of 2013.
Altogether the following OPA configurations are possible:
- Manned: 1 Pilot and 3 passengers (PAX) as VFR/IFR liaison aircraft, or 1 pilot and 1 payload operator (back seat), VFR/IFR operations
- Hybrid: 1 Pilot und 1 Payload Operator (pack seat if payload operator required), VFR/IFR operations
- Unmanned: no on board crew, VFR/IFR operations
The machine which is registered as R-711 (R stands in the Swiss Air Force for reconnaissance) is stationed at the Emmen air base and is assigned to the flight test section of armasuisse.
Configuration of liaison aircraft (EASA VFR/IFR certification)
- Long range tanks
- GARMIN G 1000 with GFC 700 autopilot
- TKS deicing system
- Bubble canopy
- Endurance approx. 4.5 h (pilot + 2 passengers + luggarge = approx. 300 kg)
- Cruise approx. 130 KT IAS at about. 70% performance
- Fuel flow approx. 12 gal/h (both engines together)
- Propulsion: Austro Engine AE300 two diesel engines with the special
noise & IR signature reduction kit
- Triplex avionic (Aurora), incl. 3-fold redundancy of GPS and Pitot tube
- Redundant servos
- 2 VHF radio instruments
- Mode S transponder
- TKS deicing system
- Payload pods: universal nose (approx. 65 kg), nose pod (approx. 85 kg), belly pod (approx. 100 kg),
underfloor radar pod (16 kg)
- For each engine an additional 100A generator (electric power supply for payload)
- Redundant and encrypted data link in C band (range approx. 200 km with 11 MB/s)
- Health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) via Iridium satellite
- Endurance approx. 7 h with:
a) Safety pilot + payload = approx. 220 kg (hybrid)
b) Payload approx. 220 kg (unmanned)
- 1 ground control station (GCS)
- 1 remote communications terminal (RCT)