Merlin Labs receives certification basis for its autonomous flight system, moves closer to autonomous flight

New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority has approved a certification basis for Merlin Labs’ takeoff to touchdown autonomy system. The approval is the result of a joint project with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is part of an overarching program certification plan, says Merlin Labs’ press release. It is a critical milestone on the path to bringing autonomously piloted aircraft to the skies.

Following a crawl, walk, run approach, this system incorporates an onboard safety pilot who will continue to act as legal pilot in command.

“We’re thrilled to become the first company to receive a certification basis for a takeoff-to-touchdown flight system,” said Shaun Johnson, CEO Merlin NZ. “The CAA’s decision clearly puts Merlin ahead of any other company in the world in bringing full autonomy to the skies.”

Merlin will continue to work with regulators in validating its approach and meeting the remaining regulatory benchmarks. At its current pace, the company expects to see autonomous flights that can take off, navigate, land, and converse with air traffic control as soon as 2023.

“We still have a lot of work ahead, but we also have the talent across our certification, engineering, design, R&D, and flight test teams to get us past unexpected hurdles and, one day, achieve full flight autonomy,” said Matthew George, Merlin Co-Founder and CEO.

Merlin is co-located in Boston, Los Angeles and Denver in the US, and partner sites in New Zealand.

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