Close sidebar

Boeing demos unmanned helo

written by | August 8, 2012
Boeing demonstrates its Unmanned Little Bird off the coast of Florida. (Boeing)

Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird H-6U helicopter successfully performed 14 autonomous takeoffs and landings from a ship during test flights in July in another milestone for robot flight.

The tests, conducted from a private ship off the coast of Florida, used a commercial off-the-shelf takeoff-and-landing system combined with Unmanned Little Bird’s automated flight control system. Two pilots were aboard the aircraft to take over in case of a problem but were not required, Boeing said. The aircraft accumulated 20 flights hours with 100 per cent availability.

“Unmanned Little Bird performed flawlessly, proving not only its reliability as a mature platform but its adaptability for various missions and continued innovation,” said Debbie Rub, Boeing vice president and general manager of Missiles and Unmanned Airborne Systems. “By successfully demonstrating this maritime capability, we are able to provide warfighters with a critical unmanned solution to meet their missions.”


Unmanned Little Bird is a variant of the MD-500 series helicopters, which have accumulated 14 million flight hours over five decades. The aircraft’s missions include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; precision cargo resupply; weapons delivery; and manned-unmanned teaming.

Boeing is also using the aircraft as a technology demonstrator for multiple platforms.

For just $59.95 a year, you can keep up to date with the very best of Australian Aviation each month, directly via our app! Our app is available on mobile, tablet and PC devices. So what are you waiting for? Go digital with Australian Aviation and read up on all missed special coverage, exclusive photos and editions. Subscribe now at

Each day, our subscribers are more informed with the right information.

SIGN UP to the Australian Aviation magazine for high-quality news and features for just $99.95 per year