Piaggio Aerospace has resumed flight testing of its P.1HH HammerHead Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, after losing the first prototype in a 2016 crash.
The second prototype commenced flight test activities from the Birgi Military Airport in Trapani, Italy on Thursday.
The resumption follows an intensive ground testing in wake of the 2016 crash. During the 2017 Paris Air Show held in June, Piaggio’s Chief Executive Officer Renato Vaghi revealed to IHS Jane’s that the crash had been attributed to overall system integration of the aircraft, which has been rectified in the 2nd prototype.
The crash have delayed introduction of the Hammer Head by more than 2 years. Piaggio now plans to commence first delivery to launch customer Italian Air Force in 2018, against the earlier target of 2016.
Italian Air Force signed a contract for three Hammer Head UAS systems consisting 6 air vehicles and 3 ground control stations in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) configuration in Feb 2015.
United Arab Emirates became the second customer for the type in March 2016, when an order for eight aircraft was announced under a €316 million ($347 million) contract.
The Italian aircraft manufacturer is controlled by Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi-based strategic investment firm.
The P.1HH HammerHead Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is derived from the successful Piaggio Aerospace P.180 Avanti II business aviation aircraft. It can climb up to 45.000 feet, loiter quietly at low speed (135 KTAS) and dash at very high speed (up to 395 KTAS) to target.
Fully compliant with STANAG USAR 4671 standards to fly in both restricted and unrestricted flight areas, the Hammer Head can perform both maritime and over land surveillance missions.
It is powered by two highly reliable Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66B turboprop engines in a pusher configuration, integrated with low noise 5 blade scimitar propellers.
With an endurance of up to 16 flight hours with a 500 lb payload, the P.1HH have a maximum range of 4,400 nautical miles.