The SkyGuardian variant of the Predator B drone. Photo courtesy GA-ASI
May 26 (UPI) -- The new MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc has set a flight endurance record -- more than 48 hours.
GA-ASI said the flight by the certifiable STANAG 4671 version of the Predator B was the longest ever by a Predator B aircraft.
"This long-endurance flight is not only a significant achievement for our MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft but also a very timely landmark event for our company as we celebrate 25 years of aviation innovation this year," said Linden Blue, chief executive officer of GA-ASI, in a press release. "GA-ASI continues to push the envelope with versatile, reliable, cost-effective, and combat-proven RPA systems and sensors, and this latest feat is a testament to our industry legacy."
The SkyGuadian -- configured in an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mode -- made history during a flight at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., while carrying 6,065 pounds of internal fuel.
GA-ASI said the RPA flew between 25,000 and 35,000 feet for the duration of the mission and landed 48.2 hours later on May 18th with 280 pounds of reserve fuel. The company's previous endurance record was held by Predator XP, which flew 46.1 hours in February 2015.
Development of MQ-9B began as a company funded effort in 2012. GA-ASI is currently building three company-owned aircraft and plans to deliver the first production aircraft next year.
The "Certifiable" Predator B has been designed to operate in non-military airspace.