General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), tactical reconnaissance radars, and electro-optic surveillance systems, has announced that it has successfully demonstrated its Advanced Cockpit Ground Control Station’s (GCS’) capability to fly Predator C Avenger®. The flight occurred November 15, 2012 at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.
“This flight paired our most advanced GCS with our most advanced aircraft”, said Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft Systems Group, GA-ASI. “Since 1994, our GCS have amassed over two million flight hours. The Advanced Cockpit is the next logical step in GCS progression. Our objective with this GCS is to fully satisfy customer interoperability requirements, enabling any GA-ASI RPA to be flown from the system.”
The goal of this Congressionally-directed, U.S. Air Force (USAF)-supported demonstration was to show that the Advanced Cockpit’s open systems software architecture adapts rapidly for other RPA operations. More than two years ago, the system successfully flew the MQ-1 Predator over a three-month period. In April 2012, the Advanced Cockpit flew the SARC-1 UAS under a jointly funded company effort with Strategic Simulation Solutions. This effort demonstrated the system’s ability to control third party RPA. This summer, the Advanced Cockpit is scheduled to fly Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper.
“Advanced Cockpit’s wrap-around visual display and multi-dimensional moving map dramatically increases situational awareness, while the integrated digital checklist decreases pilot workload,” said Jason McDermott, the test pilot who successfully handed off control of Avenger from GA-ASI’s legacy GCS to the Advanced Cockpit and controlled the flight during a 3-hour mission. “The combination of these unique features greatly increases the ease and simplicity of mission planning, reduces pilot workload, thereby increasing flight safety.”
GA-ASI’s Advanced Cockpit GCS is being designed in accordance with the U.S. Air Force’s Unmanned Aircraft System Command and Control Initiative to enable interoperability with all USAF RPA and the U.S. Department of Defense’s vision for GCS interoperability and commonality as outlined by the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Unmanned Control Segment Working Group.
The Advanced Cockpit GCS features intuitive interfaces designed to make hazardous situations easier to identify, enhancing safety and improving the pilot’s reaction time and decision-making processes. Its ergonomic human-machine interface significantly improves situational awareness and reduces workload so the pilot can more effectively and efficiently accomplish his or her mission.