Israel's Ministry of Transport and Road Safety announced on Wednesday the country's first certification for unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) to operate in civilian airspace.
The certification was issued by the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to the Hermes Starliner unmanned system, which was developed and manufactured by Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense electronics company.
"I am proud that Israel becomes the first country which allows UAVs to operate for the benefit of agriculture, the environment, the fight against crime, the public and the economy," said Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Merav Michaeli.
The approval will allow Elbit's drone to fly in civilian airspace like any other civilian airliner, rather than being restricted to unsegregated airspace.
The Hermes Starliner, which has a wingspan of 17 meters and weighs 1.6 tons, can fly for up to 36 hours at an altitude of about 7,600 meters, and can carry an additional 450 kg of electro-optical, thermal, radar, and other payloads.
It will be able to participate in border security and anti-terror operations, take part in securing mass public events, perform maritime search and rescue, perform commercial aviation and environmental inspection missions, as well as precision agriculture work.
The CAA has supervised the design and manufacturing of the Hermes Starliner and led a rigorous six-year certification process that included extensive ground and flight tests.
For safety reasons, international aviation regulations prohibit uncertified aircraft from flying in civilian airspace, limiting the operation of UAVs to unsegregated airspace.