Novel manned/unmanned aircraft conversion for Arctic research

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Latitude Engineering
Tucson, AZ 85719
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


There is a clear requirement for gathering greater quantity and quality of atmospheric data in the Arctic regions. The harsh nature of the environment combined with remote location creates the need for technological solutions. Current efforts have successfully used small unmanned aerial systems (UAS); however, a large cost in both time and money is incurred when miniaturizing sensors to fit within extremely tight size, weight, and power requirements (typically less then 5kg of payload). Further, the cost of acquisition and operation of small UAS has failed to meet early expectations, and aircraft reliability has proven less than adequate (engine failure is the primary cause of aircraft loss). Latitude proposes a novel method of converting manned aircraft which will provide a mid-size UAS (100 lbs of payload or more), at costs equivalent to small UAS systems, with 2000 mile round-trip range, and with reliability consistent with that of the general aviation fleet. With the expansion of commercial operations in the Arctic, potential applications include sea lane monitoring (specifically for ice threats), search and rescue, and fisheries/trade monitoring.