Merlin on ‘viable path’ to certification in New Zealand


Merlin is on a viable path to validation and certification with the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA NZ) following conclusion of a review of Merlin’s first stage of involvement (SOI 1).

CAA NZ has also approved the Plan for Software Aspects of Certification (PSAC). This is the first civil certification of software in New Zealand and involves a four-step certification process. The Merlin Pilot’s CAA supplemental type certificate (STC) is on a concurrent pathway with the FAA under the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement. 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”. 

The milestone comes two years after Merlin’s initial PSCP was accepted in the first quarter of 2022. Matthew George, co-founder and CEO, said: “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.

“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 organisational approval system,” added George.

Going forward, Merlin will undergo further testing to evaluate 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.

Shaun Johnson, CEO, Merlin NZ, said: “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. 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.”