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Satnews Daily
July 13th, 2016

Expanded European RPA Operations Possible With New General Atomics & NRL Collaboration

Expanding RPA operations within European airspace is the focus of a new agreement between General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA ASI) and the NRL-Netherlands Aerospace Center—the result will be to support expanded ops approval for the former firm's RPAs to fly in the aforementioned airspace.

NLR happens to be one of the world’s leading experts on the global Air Traffic Management (ATM) system, with particular experience in Europe. GA-ASI will continue to leverage NLR’s full air traffic control simulation facility and more than 15 years of experience in RPA systems to help solve the critical questions surrounding the safe and efficient integration of RPA into non-segregated airspace, as the Predator B RPA is currently permitted to operate in segregated airspace..

The Predator B RPA from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

While Predator B is currently operational in segregated airspace in Europe, this collaboration is intended to expand operations into non-segregated airspace.

Starting in 2012, GA-ASI embarked on a company-funded project to produce a STANAG 4671-complaint configuration of the Predator B MALE UAS. This NATO standard defines a basis for UAS airworthiness certification which is compatible with civil airspace operations in the member countries. The initial flight of the “certifiable” Predator B configuration will occur in 2016.

“It’s a great opportunity for NLR to work together with GA-ASI on extending the existing European regulations on RPA usage in civilian airspace,” said Michel Peters, CEO, NLR. “The combination of GA-ASI’s extensive RPA knowledge and our certification and ATM knowledge will be a guarantee for a successful project.”