Future Aviation and Uncrewed Systems (UxS)


Innovation and collaboration are the drivers to a successful and sustainable aerospace sector. From design, development, and certification, through manufacture and delivery to whole life support, the ability to develop new ideas is drawn from a broad eco-system, which will help maintain our leading aerospace position in the South West of England.  For vertical lift, the challenge multiplies as development of existing technologies merge with disruptive thinking to broaden the market offering.

iAero sits in the heart of this eco-system at the Home of British Helicopters, purpose built to support that challenge.  A collaboration between Somerset Council and Leonardo Helicopters UK, the centre offers an innovation space for full time tenants, part-time members the opportunity to network within the sector through the iAero hub.  The latest digital technologies are available for both tenants and members of iAero to support the development of innovative and collaborative projects.  The centre is designed to bring together primes, SMEs, equipment providers, innovators, academia, institutions, and customers to bring the next generation of aerospace technologies into reality.

Rotary Wing Uncrewed Air System

Vertical lift is a key asset to future air power, providing agility and advantage to users. Doing this automatically and autonomously compounds those advantages by removing the need for people to work in dull, dirty and dangerous operations, while providing safety for future urban air transport.

Leonardo is leading research, development, experimentation and demonstration of emerging technologies applicable to future Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS) in order to inspire, catalyse and accelerate innovation.

Through our partnership with the UK MOD, Leonardo is investigating uncrewed VTOL capability looking at:

  • Optimising aircraft design for concept of operations
  • Increasing safety levels through multi-propeller concepts
  • Inventing the next generation of flight control systems
  • Driving down cost of ownership through:
    • transformational improvements in availability and reliability
    • reduction in maintenance burden through fully on-condition maintenance
    • self-diagnosis and on-board decision making
  • Reducing operator workload management and cognitive learning through next generation human machine interface
  • Developing precision navigation in unsegregated and contested, denied airspace
  • Developing cutting-edge payloads
  • Cyber resilience systems
  • Green, sustainable aviation.

Air Launched Effects

Leonardo is innovating Air Launched Effects (ALE) – deploying UAS from aircraft bringing untold operator advantages / effects at distance. Alongside the UK MOD, through our Capability Concept Demonstration (CCD), the programme will:

  • Physically launch and control UAS from our rotorcraft
  • Examine the ‘effect’ to be achieved and derive the Concept of Operation
  • Swarming of the effectors
  • Develop the Human Machine Interface (HMI) that integrates the ALE as an ‘off board effector’ into the cockpit
  • Determine the cognitive burden associated with controlling and fighting both the Wildcat and the ALE.