Merlin has achieved first stage of involvement (SOI 1) with the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand and has obtained an approved Plan for Software Aspects of Certification (PSAC).
The Boston-headquartered company is currently developing autonomous fixed-wing aircraft with its commercial offering Merlin Pilot. Merlin is one of the only takeoff to touchdown automation software suites available to retrofit on existing aircraft. The company has been testing its software on a modified Cessna 208B Grand Caravan in Alaska, New Zealand, and the Mojave desert.
Merlin intends to pursue a concurrent validation pathway with the FAA under the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement between the United States and New Zealand. Following a final, successful evaluation from the CAA, Merlin’s software will be considered DO-178C compliant. The DO-178C, or Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification is the primary document by which global certification authorities approve all commercial software-based aerospace systems.
“We have been working hand-in-hand with the CAA and achieving the SOI 1 regulatory milestone allows us to rapidly, safely, and effectively integrate the Merlin Pilot into our skies, transforming the way goods and people move around the world. SOI 1 is the critical step of this process and we’re proud to be the first to accomplish this stage of certification progress,” said Matthew George, co-founder and CEO, Merlin. “We will continue to undergo rigorous evaluations by the CAA ensuring that we’re following the plans set forth in SOI 1, and we’re excited to responsibly bring the Merlin Pilot to certification. We’re confident that with each SOI we achieve we will set a strong foundation for FAA validation of the CAA’s certification processes, delegations, and organizational approval system.”
Why it matters: Introducing autonomy onto an existing aircraft platforms offer a glimpse into future aerial mobility technology capabilities. Merlin’s certification strategy may have a big pay off and allow it to be one of the first certified DO-178C compliant fully autonmous software suites for aircraft.
Source: Merlin Press Release