Merlin Big Red waiting to take off.
Preparing ‘Big Red’ for Certification


Alex Naiman, CTO


Our mission at Merlin is to create the world’s most capable pilot, leveraging technology as the key enabler of air network resiliency. To achieve this goal we’re taking a three-phased approach: crawl, walk, and fly. The aviation industry has achieved its stellar safety record through hard-learned lessons, now enshrined in regulations. Even while we innovate technologically, we must continue to prioritize safety and prove that we are doing so to regulatory authorities. Our significant progress to date has been in the very important “crawl” stage, where we will demonstrate for the first time Merlin’s ability to meet certification standards to industry regulators including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA).  

Today, we are working to certify the first version of the Merlin Pilot, which will allow cargo aircraft to automatically fly from takeoff to touchdown with an onboard human pilot in command. The current version of the Merlin Pilot serves as the baseline platform that we will adapt to other aircraft types and expand to automate additional functions of flight. Ultimately, it will improve the safety, efficiency, and scale of flight operations for our customers.

We are currently equipping Merlin’s Cessna Grand Caravan 208B, nicknamed ‘Big Red,' with the Merlin Pilot that we will certify via a supplemental type certificate (STC). Big Red will serve as our flight test platform for the final development and verification of the certified system for the regulatory authority. This integration includes three primary hardware installation areas that allow the Merlin Pilot software to control the flight of the aircraft: 

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