First Ferry Flight Delivery Performed with MQ-9 UAS

By Mike Ball / 14 Apr 2020
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MQ-9 UAS ferry flight delivery

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has delivered a new MQ-9 unmanned aerial system via ferry flight for the first time. New MQ-9 aircraft are usually packed and shipped by GA-ASI for reassembly after delivery, and ferrying the UAS saves time in shipping and reassembly, as well as making the aircraft available for training immediately upon arrival.

The MQ-9 UAS was flown from GA-ASI’s Flight Operations Center in Palmdale, California to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. A major aspect of the delivery involved flying the aircraft through the National Airspace System (NAS). The USAF has estimated that ferrying the MQ-9 saved a total of 142 man-hours.

GA-ASI has now flown several unmanned aircraft in the NAS while working with the FAA and other authorities to secure proper approvals. The company continues to work towards a future where UAS can simply “file and fly” in the NAS just like manned commercial flights.

David R. Alexander, president of GA-ASI, commented: “GA-ASI continues to lead the charge towards enabling large unmanned aircraft to fly in the NAS. Our efforts, along with other partners, are gaining momentum and successfully flying the MQ-9 to our U.S. Air Force customer further demonstrates the safety and efficiency of RPA flight in the broader airspace.”

Col. Casey Tidgewell, 49th Operations Group commander, said: “This is the first time that team Holloman has taken delivery of a new MQ-9 by ferry flight. It’s critically important because flying outside of our training area helps normalize RPA flight inside the NAS and provides broader aviation experience for our instructors. I could not be more proud of our operations and maintenance professionals that made this happen.”

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact
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