General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., a manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, has announced that construction has commenced on its new, five-and-a-half acre RPA training facility at Grand Sky Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) business and aviation park in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
“Today’s groundbreaking of our new state-of-the-art training facility continues to elevate GA-ASI’s partnership with North Dakota,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “We look forward to the completion of this construction project which will allow us to meet growing worldwide demand for RPA training and conduct airspace integration testing.”
During the ceremony, Governor Jack Dalrymple, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) joined U.S. Air Force leadership and GA-ASI executives to break ground on the site.
The mission of GA-ASI’s Training Academy is to provide safe, effective, and cutting- edge flight training for aircrew operating the company’s aircraft. As an additional benefit, the Training Academy will potentially serve to augment USAF Training Programs as well. Training for GA-ASI aircrew begins in early 2016, followed by international customer training shortly thereafter. The company signed a 10-year lease for the facility.
Operating year-round and generating new jobs in North Dakota, the Academy will offer multiple courses and provide training for dozens of students at a time. GA-ASI plans to leverage U.S. Government-approved syllabi, partner with a local university, and draw on the expertise of leaders in the training and simulation industry to facilitate the academic and ground-based training programs. Concurrently, flight operations at the Academy will support flight training, research and development, and commercial applications.
Since the early 1990s, GA-ASI has used its Gray Butte and El Mirage Flight Operations Facilities in Palmdale and Adelanto, California to train hundreds of company and customer aircrew. The North Dakota site provides an additional training resource for both GA-ASI aircrews and international customers who are seeking to grow their aircrew capacity beyond what current training programs can provide.
GA-ASI’s Grand Sky facility is co-located with the Grand Forks Air Force Base, which also serves as the base of operations for U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection Predator® B aircraft and North Dakota Air National Guard MQ-1 Predator A aircraft.