MQ-9B drone flown through U.S. civilian airspace

General Atomics flew the remotely piloted aircraft through unrestricted airspace for just under two hours after receiving clearance from the FAA.
By Richard Tomkins  |  Aug. 21, 2017 at 4:52 PM
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Aug. 21 (UPI) -- An MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft has been flown through unrestricted U.S. airspace by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., the company announced last week.

The MQ-9B, which has the NATO airworthiness standard for unmanned aircraft systems, was flown earlier this month from Laguna Airfield at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., to a Flight Operations facility near Palmdale, Calif.

GA-ASI said the aircraft was approved by Federal Aviation Administration for the one-hour, 45-minute flight through various classes of non-restricted airspace.

"This flight is another milestone in our progression towards delivering an RPA system that meets NATO airworthiness requirements for UAS," Linden Blue, chief executive officer at GA-ASI, said in a press release. "MQ-9B SkyGuardian will be the first RPA system of its kind with a design-assurance level compliant with international type-certification standards, and can therefore be integrated more easily than legacy RPAs into civil airspace operations around the world."

In other company developments, GA-ASI is also officially opening a new hanger on Monday at its test and training center at Grand Sky Unmanned Aircraft System Business Park near Grand Forks, N.D.

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