No quick path to certification for Sikorsky and FedEx autonomy tech

Sikorsky has successfully demonstrated its autonomy technology for years, but civil certification poses a whole new set of challenges.

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Release Date
February 9, 2023
No quick path to certification for Sikorsky and FedEx autonomy tech
The autonomy collaboration between Lockheed Martin Sikorsky and FedEx appears to be advancing toward a commercial product, but certification by the Federal Aviation Administration is likely some ways off, industry insiders tell The Air Current.

In February 2021, TAC broke the story that Sikorsky and FedEx were testing Sikorsky’s Matrix autonomy system on a FedEx Express-owned ATR 42-300 freighter. Both companies have declined to share details on their partnership, but Sikorsky recently confirmed that one of its commercial customers is pursuing FAA certification of the Matrix system on a fixed-wing platform.

Related: FedEx and Sikorsky quietly begin single-pilot tests for cargo airliners

Speaking at the Vertical Flight Society’s Autonomous VTOL Technical Meeting on January 25, Barbara Lindauer, business development lead for Sikorsky Innovations, shared new insights into the certification program, which she said is being undertaken with “a commercial proprietary partner that we’ve been involved with for, I guess, maybe six years now.”

Sikorsky and FedEx have been partnering on autonomy at least since 2016, when FedEx provided a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan for use by Sikorsky in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System, or ALIAS program.

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