A company in Wyoming has secured FAA approval to start flight tests with a large twin-engine drone, the Flyox Mark II, built by Singular Aircraft of Barcelona, Spain. The amphibious drone has a 35-foot wingspan and can carry up to 4,000 pounds of water for dropping on forest fires. According to Singular, it’s the world’s largest amphibious drone, and can be used for agricultural work, freight transport, border surveillance and rescue missions. Unmanned Aircraft International, headquartered in Casper, Wyoming, will conduct the flight tests. “Getting authorization to fly an 8,800-pound drone is very challenging,” UAI operations manager Chuck Jarnot told the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle. “The previous record was a 200-pound drone for commercial use.”
The drone can be broken down to fit in a standard 40-foot cargo trailer, and then can be re-assembled in less than four hours, according to Singular. It burns 95-octane fuel and can fly day or night, and can take off or land on snow, water or hard surfaces. It has an internal GPS control system that enables it to take off, complete its mission and return for landing, all autonomously, with no human input. The Mark II has an endurance of up to 28 hours aloft, according to the company’s website, and a range of 2,515 NM.