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General Atomics ground control


April 9, 2019
By UAV Canada Staff
The Certifiable Ground Control Station for the first time monitors a complete flight of a MQ-9B SkyGuardian. (Photo: General Atomics)

The Certifiable Ground Control Station (CGCS) from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) was used to control the complete flight, including takeoff and landing, of an MQ-9B SkyGuardian on March 12. This is the first time the CGCS has been used to control an entire end-to-end flight of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).

“Controlling takeoff and landing was the last step in a progression of flight milestones for the CGCS,” said David Alexander, president, GA-ASI. “Our vision is that MQ-9B will be the first RPA certified to fly in national and international airspace. To achieve that goal, our GCS needs to be type-certified, as well. Completing an end-to end flight was an important step in achieving that ultimate goal.”

The flight originated from the Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona. The CGCS features a Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics system from Collins Aerospace, the Abaco FORCE2 flight computer, as well as all the weapons and payload controls for MQ-9B.

GA-ASI explains its CGCS architecture provides separation between flight and mission critical functions. Flight critical functions, continues the company, are performed using off-the-shelf avionics and flight computers running GA-ASI’s certifiable DAL B software. The mission critical functions are separated and run alongside GA-ASI’s Advanced Cockpit payload and weapons equipment.