General Atomics' aeronautical systems business has completed the first test flight of the type-certifiable variant of the company's Predator B remotely piloted aircraft during a demonstration held in California.
The maiden flight of the type-certifiable Predator B drone occurred Nov. 17 at General Atomics’ Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility near Palmdale, the company said Monday.
“The first flight of our Certifiable Predator-B aircraft is a major milestone in our progression towards delivering a RPA that meets all NATO airworthiness requirements,“ said GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue.
Blue added that the certifiable variant is the first RPA system of its kind to comply with an international type-certification standard for integration into civil airspace operations worldwide.
General Atomics plans to conduct qualification testing for type certification over the next two years and deliver the aircraft to the U.K. air force in late 2018.
The company will build three company-owned aircraft to facilitate qualification tests along with two airframes designed for full-scale fatigue and static assessments.
General Atomics kicked off modification for Predator B in 2012 and the type-certifiable aircraft will be available in an unweaponized maritime patrol configuration to support border patrol, coast guard and disaster relief operations.