Hello everyone! 

For the past few months we were looking for a more convenient way to launch our PD-1 fixed-wing UAV (MTOW is 40 kg). Since runway takeoff and landing requires pretty serious and long training for the operator and any pneumatic launchers that will work with our UAV are expensive (from $30000 USD (actually we couldn't find anything less than $50k)) we decided to look for alternatives. Car top launch was one of those alternatives. We quickly developed a test unit and ran a few tests. So far we already have some statistics and pretty sure that it can be a good alternative to expensive pneumatic launchers in some civil applications with tight budget. Let me know your opinion on this. Do you think such way to launch a UAV could be an option? 

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Comment by Dwgsparky on January 25, 2017 at 8:37am

@Sam. 

The advantage a catapult gives (freestanding or truck mounted ) is that it can be faced directly into the wind and the flight direction is already defined so that poles, trees and wires etc are not a problem. We launch directly under wires many times.

The aircraft is already flying long before it leaves the catapult and the flight controls are fully functional. The autopilot can automatically start the motor as the aircraft leaves the catapult or the motor can run to assist the launch. both give a good and repeatable launch with a greatly reduced workload for the pilot. its safer and much more predictable. you also dont need a road!,

The post is about using the vehicle as a moving launch platform to get the launch speed, for large aircraft this is less stressful for the aircraft than a catapult, you just need a smooth road or the stresses are too great. Horses for courses etc. 

Also a catapult allows easy single handed operation, the van needs a driver as well as the aircraft pilot. 

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