GA-ASI’s Certifiable Ground Control Station Makes Its First Flight

A “Certifiable” (STANAG 4671-compliant) Ground Control Station (C-GCS) from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) was used for the first time on October 4 to fly a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). The flight originated from Yuma, Arizona and flew GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA. Aircraft flight critical functions were tested successfully, including hold modes, landing gear, flap operation, and “hand flying” of the aircraft.

“This marks a major milestone for the C-GCS,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “We continue on a path towards integrating RPA into non-segregated national and international airspace, where they can fly safely alongside commercial aircraft. To achieve that goal, we are producing STANAG-compliant Ground Control Stations in addition to STANAG-compliant SkyGuardian aircraft.”

The C-GCS includes the same flight management system, cockpit displays, and navigation guidance as those found on modern corporate and commercial aircraft. The C-GCS also enables weapons and payload control for SkyGuardian. The ground station’s hardware and software architecture provide separation of flight and mission-critical functions. This allows mission software to be modified without affecting flight critical software. The mission Human Machine Interface (HMI) is designed to provide situational awareness on a single tactical situation display. Avionics associated with the flight management system, including traffic collision avoidance, are certified under FAA Technical Standard Orders (TSO).

The upcoming test schedule for the C-GCS includes full launch and recovery, HMI enhancements, mission-critical functions, and SATCOM datalink testing.

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