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GE Aviation and AAI Perform First Trajectory-Based Flight on Unmanned Aircraft System

GE Aviation and AAI Corporation, in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Army performed the first proof of concept flight demonstrations of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) controlled with a GE Flight Management System (FMS) certified for use in commercial manned aircraft.

These flights used the AAI Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System controlled by the GE Aviation FMS as part of the UAS FAA & Industry Team (UFIT) Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) to demonstrate an approach for the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) as part of the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System Program.

The initial flight lasted 45 minutes and demonstrated both lateral and vertical control of the Shadow 200 UAS coupled with the GE FMS. A subsequent 3-hour demonstration was conducted that allowed for more rigorous testing of the FMS controlled Shadow 200. The results provide a variety of operational and technical assessments to demonstrate the ability to integrate a certified flight management capability into existing US military UAS to support operations in national airspace.

This demonstration is in support of the UAS FAA & Industry Team (UFIT) Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRDA) between GE and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on 10 August. The research agreement is complemented by an agreement between AAI, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. company, and GE including the demonstration flights of the AAI Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System. Simulation is being conducted at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center, which began this fall and will continue for two years.

Integration of the FMS with the One System Ground Control Station (GCS) will enable the Army to fold this capability into all UAS that incorporate the One System.

GE certified their first flight management computer in November 1984. GE provides versions of its flight management systems for the Airbus A320/330/340, Boeing 767 Tanker, and US Navy E-6 aircraft, the USAF E-4 and C-130, UK C-130, Spanish Air Force C-130s, C-130 AMP, UK Nimrod 2000, IL-96. GE’s FMS software will also be on the US Navy P-8A aircraft which is currently in development.

The FMS optimized descent has qualified as an ecomagination product, having completed GE’s rigorous ecomagination Product Review (EPR) process. The evaluation focused on the operating and environmental benefits that the technology provides to customers, including demonstrated emissions reductions, fuel and costs savings.

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