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Proteus aircraft to fly at 'Aviation of the Future Days'

Demonstration flights of NASA's Proteus aircraft, an experimental aircraft that has set three world altitude records, will be among the highlights of "Aviation of the Future Days" at the Las Cruces Airport on Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16.



The Proteus aircraft, shown here in flight over the Mojave Desert in California, will be at the Las Cruces Airport for "Aviation of the Future Days" March 15 and 16. (NASA photo)

nt is designed to showcase the potential applications for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It is sponsored by NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) Alliance and hosted by New Mexico State University's Physical Science Laboratory (PSL).


Friday's activities, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., are reserved for middle and high school groups, the news media and community leaders. Saturday is Community Day, with activities open to the public from 9 a.m. until noon.

In addition to flights of the Proteus, "Aviation of the Future Days" will include information booths on the Physical Science Laboratory's UAV program, the NASA ERAST program and other NASA initiatives. Pilots and other test crew from the NASA ERAST Alliance who are involved in the Proteus aircraft testing will also be present, as will the T-34 and F-18 aircraft that are involved in the collision avoidance phases of the tests.

Proteus is an optionally manned aircraft that has set records for peak altitude, sustained altitude in horizontal flight, and peak altitude carrying a 1,000-kilogram payload. For this week's testing schedule, the Proteus will have a pilot on board while the ground control systems and other sensor systems are tested.

The PSL's Technical Analysis and Applications Center, located at the airport, is working with NASA and others to test UAV technologies and to develop certification and regulatory standards for remotely operated aircraft. The TAAC also hosts an annual international symposium on UAV technologies.

Potential uses for UAVs include agricultural and environmental monitoring, disaster monitoring, aerial photography and mapping, scientific research, law enforcement activities and telecommunications relay. Essentially, UAVs are flying robots, capable of performing tasks that may be too dull or dangerous for human pilots, said PSL's Steve Hottman.

Photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/proteus.jpg.
CUTLINE: The Proteus aircraft, shown here in flight over the Mojave Desert in California, will be at the Las Cruces Airport for "Aviation of the Future Days" March 15 and 16. (NASA photo)

Karl Hill
March 8, 2002