Jun 26, 2023
On June 26, 2013, Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing Company, established a global presence with the opening of the Aurora Swiss Aerospace office in Luzern, Switzerland. This year, the Aurora Swiss team is celebrating its 10th anniversary of groundbreaking work in advanced aircraft development and enabling technologies. Over the past decade, the team at Aurora Swiss has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation, transforming concepts into reality.
Throughout its history, the office has developed deep expertise in areas such as autonomy, lightweight structures, urban air mobility, and electric propulsion. Aurora originally opened the facility to support the company’s Centaur optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) and its services contract with armasuisse, Switzerland’s Federal Office for Defense Procurement. Centaur integrates piloted, remotely piloted, and hybrid flight capabilities into a twin engine aircraft.
From its initial work with Centaur, Aurora Swiss evolved into a vital research and development facility and contributed to numerous projects across Aurora. These projects ranged from the solar-powered, pseudo-satellite Odysseus, capable of autonomously flying long-term missions in the stratosphere, to electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft concepts for urban air mobility (UAM). The Swiss team led the airframe design for the Boeing Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV) prototype, an entirely electric, autonomous aircraft with a fully composite structure, which continues to inform the development of future UAM vehicles.
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Structural engineering became a core focus for the Swiss office, enabling the team to contribute to the design, analysis, manufacturing, assembly, and integration of various aircraft. Their expertise in lightweight structures and carbon composites plays a crucial role in enhancing an aircraft’s efficiency and enabling alternative propulsion technologies, such as those being used to support NASA’s Electric Propulsion Flight Demonstrator and the recently announced X-66A Sustainable Flight Demonstrator. These advancements are essential to making flight more sustainable as the industry seeks to reduce emissions in aviation.
Over the past 10 years, the team has established expertise in multiple areas of autonomy including ground control systems, fleet management, airspace integration, detect and avoid, and multi-vehicle simulation for urban air mobility. The team’s expertise in networked operations (NetOps) can enable tomorrow’s UAM aircraft fleets. The NetOps system encompasses high-paced, high-throughput autonomous operations, cutting-edge systems engineering, ground operations centers, and comprehensive flight operations. The system provides an easily monitored, automated environment that can support multiple aircraft at the same time, paving the way toward efficient and compliant fleet operations.
Today, the team maintains a close collaboration with advanced air mobility company Wisk. Aurora engineers are currently supporting Wisk as they design, certify, and bring a self-flying, all-electric air taxi to market. With Aurora Swiss’ expertise in areas such as fleet management systems, safety and reliability, and concept of operations (ConOps), the team continues to drive technological advancements leading to safe, sustainable mobility.
Aurora Swiss Aerospace’s groundbreaking work over the past decade has left a lasting impact, revolutionizing the way we perceive autonomous and sustainable flight. As the team continues to demonstrate expertise in autonomy, rapid aircraft design, urban air mobility, and integration of advanced technology, there is no doubt that Aurora Swiss will continue to advance the future of flight for decades to come.