Today General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) president David R. Alexander issued the following statement at the Civil Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Conference during the Paris International Air Show:
GA-ASI applauds the FAA’s effort to work with industry through the recently formed Controlled Airspace Advisory Rulemaking Committee and Type Certification Projects.
GA-ASI is working collaboratively across the aviation community to address the challenges of airspace integration in the areas of airworthiness, technology, regulations, and procedures. We think that international harmonization is critical to industry growth. In the near future, UAVs will be able to fly without special clearance and that has been our corporate goal for the last 25 years.
In the last 25 years, GA-ASI aircraft have flown more than 4.5 million flight hours, 600,000 of which were flown in 2016 alone. To put this into perspective, about 80 GA-ASI aircraft are airborne every second of the day. These operations are currently conducted at 75 locations worldwide. GA-ASI is learning new things about UAV airspace integration every day with our primary goal of safety. The term Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is key to the way that we think about Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Our “Remote Pilots” are highly qualified aviation professionals who are rated to perform commercial operations.
On the airworthiness front, GA-ASI is working under private investment to develop the MQ-9B SkyGuardian™, a RPA that will comply with NATO’s STANAG 4671, the only internationally recognized airworthiness regulation for large RPA. SkyGuardian is the baseline system for the UK’s PROTECTOR program. We are proud to have the UK as our launch partner.
On the technology front, GA-ASI has been developing key RPA-related technologies for over six years. To answer the UAV issue of “see and be seen,” GA-ASI recently has been working with the FAA, NASA, and Honeywell to perform flight tests of an airborne Detect and Avoid (DAA) system on NASA’s Ikhana, which contributed to the recently published RTCA DO-365 and DO-366 technical standards for DAA and a GA-ASI-developed Due Regard Airborne Radar.
We understand aviation is global and we have ambitions of operating all over the world, so GA-ASI is an active contributor to the U.S. Delegation to the ICAO RPA Panel. It is essential that industry, FAA, civil aviation, regulators, and export policy work together going forward and we predict that by 2027, UAVs “file and fly” will be common place.
The panel discussion was held in the GIFAS (Groupement des Industries françaises aéronautiques et spatiales) International Chalet at the Paris Air Show and focused on “technology at the service of (drones) regulation.” All approaches were illustrated by coordinated presentations from aviation authorities and industries, showing how collaboration between regulators and industry could lead to balanced regulations, protecting both the growth of the drone industry and the safety of people in the air and on the ground.
Mr. Alexander spoke as a representative of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and was joined by Patrick Gandil, director general of the French Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC) in link with Jean-Brice Dumont (Airbus Helicopters CTO) speaking for GIFAS; Michael Huerta, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator; Kah Han TAN, senior director safety regulations from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore; Patrick KY, EASA executive director; and Florian Guillermet, SESAR JU executive director.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar. Celebrating over 25 years of aviation innovation, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops metamaterial antennas. For more information, visit www.ga-asi.com.