Merlin Pilot is on a clear certification path for safety-critical software, leading the autonomous flight system industry in the regulatory process
BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Merlin, the leading developer of safe, autonomous flight technology for fixed-wing aircraft, today announced that the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand have concluded their review of Merlin's first stage of involvement (SOI 1) and have approved the Plan for Software Aspects of Certification (PSAC). This milestone significantly reduces risk and puts the Merlin Pilot on a viable path to validation and certification. In the CAA system this is the first civil certification of software; the CAA’s four step certification process ensures safety-critical software achieves in-air operability. The Merlin Pilot’s CAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) is on a concurrent validation pathway with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement. After meticulous evaluation, Merlin is the only takeoff to touchdown advanced automation system to date to achieve SOI 1, which greenlights the development of its flight control software and lays the groundwork for the Merlin Pilot to be the first advanced automation system validated by the FAA. Today’s milestone comes just two years after Merlin’s initial PSCP was accepted in Q1 2022 underscoring the company’s industry-leading certification and regulatory cadence.
“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.”
Alongside these certification milestones, Merlin is maturing its regulatory and policy teams, most recently with the hire of Travis Mason as Chief Policy and Regulatory Officer. Going forward, Merlin will undergo further testing to evaluate the viability and safety of its software. 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.
“Safety is our primary objective, and we’ve worked closely with the CAA to ensure this initial stage of involvement was conducted swiftly and thoroughly,” said Shaun Johnson, CEO, Merlin NZ. “As the first advanced automation flight technology to achieve this level of approval, we’re thrilled to progress our software development work and get the Merlin Pilot into operational service.”
Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Boston, with additional offices in Los Angeles, Denver, Kerikeri (NZ) and Mojave, Merlin is building the definitive autonomy system for all things that fly. To learn more, visit www.merlinlabs.com or follow us on Twitter @merlinaero.