Remotely controlled unmanned aircraft lands at Ben Gurion International alongside commercial flights

Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport received the first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) on 16 September when the Heron, a UAV developed and built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), landed alongside commercial flights occupying civilian air space. According to an IAI press release, the UAV took off from Ein Shemer airfield, landed at Ben Gurion, and flew back to Ein Shemer. The entire take off, flight, and landing were operated from the Ein Shemer control station.

IAI says the landing proves the maturity of the company’s Long Runner operating system which allows UAVs to take off and land automatically on long-haul routes (ranges of up to 1500 km and more) using satellite communications technology and a combination of accurate take-off and automatic landing capability.

The Heron is used by Israeli, German, and other nations’ air forces to carry out longer strategic and tactical missions.

IAI EVP and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group, Moshe Levy, said, “IAI’s Heron UAV made a significant breakthrough today, landing for the first time at an international airport. The future of the world of aviation will need to allow unmanned aerial vehicles to land at civilian airports, and today this happened for the first time thanks to the hard and joint work of the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel and the Israel Airports Authority. This is a great acheivement for IAI in the UAV arena.”

(Image: IAI Heron lands at Ben Gurion International, Alon Ron)

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