Israel has become the first country in the world to allow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to fly in civilian airspace. Elbit has announced the world-first certification of their defence contractor’s StarLiner drone by the Transportation Ministry after a six-year evaluation period. The permit was issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the State of Israel back in December, however, Elbit only announced the regulation change recently.
This is a historical achievement for Elbit, as the majority of commercially available UAV’s do not have the necessary sensors to allow them to fly in civilian airspace without any interference to existing aircraft. Because of this, most countries have put laws in place which prevent drones from flying in civilian airspace.
Was Israel Always Meant to Be the First?
This step for Israeli airspace is expected to influence other countries, and perhaps soon see a change to the types of aircraft being manufactured and used for military and security operations.
Originally, Switzerland had been set to be the country to make this mark, with a sale of Elbit drones being in the works for several years. However, some setbacks, including a test drone crashing in 2020, have meant that Switzerland is not likely to receive their shipment until around mid-2022. Elbit have also agreed to provide their StarLiner drone to the Canadian Ministry of Transportation.
More About the Drone
Elbit systems drones have created the StarLiner as a modified version of its previous model, Hermes 900. This updated version has additional sensors which can identify and avoid collisions with other aircraft, as well as an additional warning system to prevent crashing into or getting too close to the ground. It also features automated takeoff and landing systems in no-visibility conditions. These modifications mean that the StarLiner complies with civil aviation requirements, allowing it to fly in civilian airspace.
The StarLiner drone has been created for the purpose of domestic intelligence and security, for both internal security as well as to provide information on the environment and climate change. The license that has been approved for Elbit systems drones allows UAVs to fly in any civilian airspace including populated areas, and gives the opportunity for unmanned aircraft to carry out the kind of tasks that have only previously been carried out by manned aircraft.
A Breakthrough for the Military
The introduction of these aircraft is a breakthrough for military airspace, which will benefit both the industry and the public. Israel is making technological leaps and bounds and is becoming a leader in civil aviation as the first country to utilise drones for a variety of public operations, including security, environmental protection and agricultural advancement. So far, the only purchases of the Elbit Starliner drone appear to have come from military government offices. However, there is hope that in the future, with the help of the certification by the Transportation Ministry, more buyers will come through, and these UAVs will begin to be integrated more commonly into civilian airspace for government use.
This could be a milestone in the mix of military and civilian life that has an impact all around the world.