General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA ASI) has started assembling the fuselage and systems of a new variant of the Predator B unmanned air system (UAS) that is designed to meet existing airworthiness requirements.
Flight testing of the aircraft will begin later this year after further assembly tasks, including integrating the wings and tails, are completed later this summer, GA ASI says.
The Predator B is designed to meet airworthiness requirements defined by NATO standard 4671, GA ASI adds. The self-funded, independent research and development programme includes designing, developing and producing a compliant air system.
Such a product will provide “enhanced safety and reliability systems that will enable [UAS] flight within civilian airspace, ushering in a new era in unmanned aviation,” says Dave Alexander, president of Aircraft Systems for GA ASI.
Airworthiness standards require GA ASI to make several changes to the design of the Predator B, including beefing up the structure to better resist fatigue and damage. The flight control software must be made more “robust”, GA ASI adds. Finally, the aircraft must be able to fly in icing conditions and survive contact with birds and lightning strikes.