GA-ASI expands Belgian team, is granted BVLOS permissions
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems has added four more Belgium-based businesses to its industry team that will deliver the MQ-9B SkyGuardian unmanned aerial vehicle to the nation.
AeroSimulators Group, AIRobot, ALX Systems and Hexagon will join Team SkyGuardian, which already includes Belgian companies SABCA, Thales Belgium, Esterline, Newtec and DronePort.
‘The addition of these four companies to Team SkyGuardian Belgium will further enhance the capabilities of SkyGuardian and build on our already strong business partnerships in Belgium,’ Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI, said.
‘GA-ASI looks forward to working with our Belgian teammates to make the MQ-9B procurement a success.’
In order to identify small to medium-sized Belgian companies that could support the SkyGuardian development, GA-ASI held an industry event called Blue Magic Belgium on 15-16 May, following the Belgian government’s selection of the UAV.
The addition of these new companies will help deliver ISR training, artificial intelligence and hyperspectral capabilities, full motion video detection capabilities, and geospatial visualisation.
The company has also announced that it has received a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations using a ground-based sense and avoid (GBSAA) system.
This GBSAA system provides an alternative to using a more costly and operationally restrictive chase aircraft, the company says, and will assist GA-ASI’s operations at the FAA-approved Northern Plans UAV test site in North Dakota.
‘Thanks to the support of Senator Hoeven [North Dakota] and Grand Forks Air Force Base, GA-ASI will be able to use GBSAA as an alternate and preferred means of compliance,’ David Alexander, president of GA-ASI, said.
‘This COA will open the skies for more unmanned flights around our North Dakota facility and establish North Dakota as a UAS training site of excellence for the global customers.’
The first public COA at the Northern Plains test site includes the incorporation of the Grand Forks Air Force Base Air Surveillance Radar (ASR)-11 and the L3Harris Technologies VueStation and RangeVue systems to meet detect and avoid requirements for a significant volume of airspace.
This new replication to a civil COA enables BVLOS flights to be conducted out of GA-ASI's Flight Test and Training Center located at Grand Forks, and the FAA authorisation was granted for one year beginning 31 August.
The COA authorises the company to conduct GBSAA flight operations using its company-owned MQ-9 Reaper UAV within 60nm of its Grand Forks facility.
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