• Contact: Dr. Thorsten Hisam
  • Office: 703.331.1015
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Centaur - Optionally Piloted Aircraft


Aurora Flight Sciences’ unique Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) combines the best of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft capabilities. Based on the Diamond DA42 Multi-Purpose Platform (MPP) Centaur provides a versatile, flexible Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform with exceptional range, high efficiency, and extremely low life cycle cost for many missions whether defense, intelligence, law enforcement or science related.

Centaur is the ultimate ISR solution as it can be operated as either unmanned or with pilots on board. This unique ability has many advantages. Manned operation and civil certification allow the Centaur to be stored at any commercial or general aviation airport worldwide and deployed through controlled airspace to remote sites for unmanned operations without the need for large transport aircraft, ground support equipment or personnel. As Centaur is based on the DA42, it is an excellent solution for clandestine operations. Where extended performance is needed or where operations are too dangerous for manned aircraft Centaur can be operated from a remote ground control station which can conveniently ferry onboard.

The distinctive Centaur OPA (Optionally Piloted Aircraft) system is compatible with NATO STANAG 4586, the standard for other existing unmanned systems. Centaur has a very small footprint as compared to other ISR solutions – ground control equipment easily fits within the existing DA42 cargo space and can be ferried to remote destinations allowing Centaur to effectively deploy itself. Conversion from manned to unmanned flight is accomplished by a two-man team in the field in under four hours. Control of unmanned flight is via a proven Aurora FCS/GCS system that provides for high levels of redundancy in line of sight (LOS) and beyond line of sight (BLOS) operations, while still blending visually into the general aviation landscape to a casual observer and retaining the DA42 MPP low operating costs.

View full page PDF of the Centaur product page...


  • 44 ft wingspan, 28 ft length, general aviation certified airframe
  • 27,500 foot service ceiling
  • 24 hour endurance with 200 lb payload
  • >2000 nm range with 200 lb payload
  • 135-160 KTAS typical cruise speed
  • Top speed 175 KTAS


  • Up to 800 lb payload capacity
  • Heavy fuel engines
  • Redundant actuators and avionics suite
  • STANAG 4586 compliant GCS
  • Minimal logistics footprint needed: one operator with self-deployable equipment
  • Variable electric power options
  • Open architecture mission computer for quick integration of new payloads


  • Performance, efficiency and economy
  • All carbon-composite construction
  • Twin-engine reliability and payload security – the equipment keeps flying even with an engine out
  • Excellent slow-flight and benign engine-out characteristics
  • Overwing exhaust is available to reduce acoustic and IR signature