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Israeli Company Carries Out Historic First-Ever UAV Landing at a Commercial Airport

The entire flight was controlled by an operator from Ein Shemer's control station.

Israeli company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) conducted the world's first ever entirely remote-controlled landing of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at a commercial airport. The UAV in question is a reconnaissance vehicle called Heron, developed and built by IAI. 

The Heron landed at Ben Gurion International Airport last Wednesday, after having taken off from Ein Shemer, where it ultimately landed back again after its successful mission, per IAI's press release

This marks the first time a UAV operates alongside commercial flights in civilian air space. 

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Remote operations

The entire flight, landings, and take offs were all controlled by an operator from Ein Shemer's control station in northern Israel. 

Israeli Company Carries Out Historic First-Ever UAV Landing at a Commercial Airport
IAI's Heron on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. Source: IAI

Per the company's statement, this marks a historic moment that highlights the "maturity and safety" of IAI's Long Runner operating system, which can control UAVs over 932 miles (1,500 km) thanks to satellite communication and precise landing and takeoff technologies.

IAI's Heron is meant to undertake longer tactical and strategic missions, as reported by Inceptive Mind. It is developed to function in severe weather conditions, to transport up to 639 pounds (290 kg) heavy cargo, which can be used for civilian purposes, as well as transmitting real-time information back to the field. Furthermore, it's able to operate for up to 52 hours, 35,000 feet (around 11 km).

The UAV's engine can produce 115 horsepower and reach speeds of up to 129 mph (208 km/h).

Israeli Company Carries Out Historic First-Ever UAV Landing at a Commercial Airport
Heron taking off again from Ben Gurion Airport. Source: IAI

Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Military Aircraft Group of Israel Aerospace Industries Moshe Levy commented on the historic flight in a YouTube video "The future of the flight industry would require civilian airfields to make room for UAVs. Today, it has happened for the first time, owing to a joint effort by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Israel Airport Authority."

You may watch the historic landing at Ben Gurion International Airport below:

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