General Atomics‘ aeronautical systems business unit has conducted the first flight of a company-owned remotely piloted aircraft at its Unmanned Aircraft System Flight Training Academy in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
David Alexander, GA-ASI president of aircraft systems, noted the first Predator flight milestone for the academy works to demonstrate the company’s UAS training operations within the National Airspace System, General Atomics said Thursday.
“Our first class is already underway, and students progressed to the flight training portion of the syllabus today,” added Alexander.
The company added the academy is now open to train external pilots alongside GA-ASI aircrews, whose training began earlier this month.
Classroom- and simulator-based instruction are held at the training academy classroom facilities while flight instruction are at the Grand Sky business and aviation park near Grand Forks Air Force Base.
GA-ASI’s facilities at Grand Sky is scheduled to complete construction in 2017 and will then operate year-round to provide training that could supplement RPA training programs of the U.S. Air Force.
“Right here in North Dakota, we’re leading the way in UAS research and development as well as the training of the pilots of the future,” said Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), who attended the first flight event.
Hoeven has met with NASA leaders to discuss a potential UAS traffic management program in North Dakota that will help facilitate a partnership between the space agency’s Ames Research Center, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and Grand Sky.