GA-ASI and NLR partner to facilitate RPA integration in European airspace

FARNBOROUGH, England, 13 July 2016. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) and the NLR-Netherlands Aerospace Centre have executed an agreement to support expanded operational approval for GA-ASI remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones, to fly in non-segregated European airspace.

GA-ASI and NLR partner to facilitate RPA integration in European airspace
GA-ASI and NLR partner to facilitate RPA integration in European airspace

FARNBOROUGH, England, 13 July 2016. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) and the NLR-Netherlands Aerospace Centre have executed an agreement to support expanded operational approval for GA-ASI remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones, to fly in non-segregated European airspace.

“NLR’s tremendous airspace and air traffic control modeling and simulation capabilities allow us to test and validate civil airspace integration concepts for Medium-altitude Long-endurance [MALE] Unmanned Aircraft Systems [UAS],” says GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue. “NLR’s contribution to Predator B’s integrated ‘Detect and Avoid’ system helps further international acceptance of MALE UAS flight in civil airspace worldwide.”

GA-ASI and NLR partner to facilitate RPA integration in European airspaceGA-ASI and NLR partner to facilitate RPA integration in European airspace

NLR is one of the world’s leading experts on the global Air Traffic Management (ATM) system, with particular experience in Europe. GA-ASI will continue to leverage NLR’s full air traffic control simulation facility and more than 15 years of experience in RPA systems to help solve the critical questions surrounding the safe and efficient integration of RPA into non-segregated airspace.

“It’s a great opportunity for NLR to work together with GA-ASI on extending the existing European regulations on RPA usage in civilian airspace,” explains NLR CEO Michel Peters. “The combination of GA-ASI’s extensive RPA knowledge and our certification and ATM knowledge will be a guarantee for a successful project.”

While Predator B is currently operational in segregated airspace in Europe, this collaboration is intended to expand operations into non-segregated airspace.

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Starting in 2012, GA-ASI embarked on a company-funded project to produce a STANAG 4671-complaint configuration of the Predator B MALE UAS. This NATO standard defines a basis for UAS airworthiness certification which is compatible with civil airspace operations in the member countries. First flight of the “certifiable” Predator B configuration will occur in 2016.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., an affiliate of General Atomics, delivers situational awareness by providing remotely piloted aircraft systems, radar, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide.

The company’s Aircraft Systems business unit is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable RPA systems, including Predator A, Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper, Gray Eagle, the new Predator C Avenger, and Predator XP. It also manufactures a variety of state-of-the-art digital Ground Control Stations (GCS), including the next-generation Advanced Cockpit GCS, and provides pilot training and support services for RPA field operations.

The Mission Systems business unit designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx Multi-mode Radar and sophisticated Claw sensor control and image analysis software into both manned and remotely piloted aircraft. It also focuses on providing integrated sensor payloads and software for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft platforms and develops high energy lasers, electro-optic sensors, and meta-material antennas.

NLR-Netherlands Aerospace Centre is a leading international research center for aerospace. Bolstered by its multidisciplinary expertise and unrivalled research facilities, NLR provides innovative and integral solutions for the complex challenges in the aerospace sector.

NLR’s activities span the full spectrum of Research Development Test & Evaluation (RDT&E). Given NLR’s specialist knowledge and facilities, companies turn to NLR for validation, verification, qualification, simulation and evaluation. NLR thereby bridges the gap between research and practical applications, while working for both government and industry at home and abroad.

NLR stands for practical and innovative solutions, technical expertise and a long-term design vision. This allows NLR's cutting edge technology to find its way into successful aerospace programs of OEMs, including Airbus, Embraer and Pilatus. NLR contributes to (military) programs, such as ESA's IXV re-entry vehicle, the F-35, the Apache helicopter, and European programs, including SESAR and Clean Sky 2.

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