MQ-9 Reaper UAV

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems‘ (GA-ASI) Advanced Cockpit ground control station (GCS) has successfully demonstrated its ability to fly the Predator C Avenger unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) during flight testing at the company’s Gray Butte Flight Operations facility in Palmdale, California, US.

Carried out in November 2012, the three-hour, congressionally directed, US Air Force (USAF)-supported trial was aimed at highlighting the advanced cockpit’s open systems software architecture’s ability to rapidly adapt for other remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) operations.

GA-ASI Aircraft Systems Group president Frank Pace said: ”Our objective with this GCS is to fully satisfy customer interoperability requirements, enabling any GA-ASI RPA to be flown from the system.”

Equipped with ergonomic and intuitive human-machine interfaces, the advanced cockpit GCS is designed to simplify identification of hazardous situations, while also augmenting the pilot’s safety, reaction time and decision-making process.

The system has been designed in accordance with the USAF’s Unmanned Aircraft System Command and Control Initiative to enable interoperability with all USAF RPA and the US 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.

GA-ASI test pilot Jason McDermott said the advanced cockpit’s wrap-around visual display and multi-dimensional moving map dramatically enhances the pilot’s situational awareness, while the integrated digital checklist reduces workload ensuring mission success.

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”The combination of these unique features greatly increases the ease and simplicity of mission planning, reduces pilot workload, thereby increasing flight safety,” McDermott added.

Having flown the MQ-1 Predator for a three-month period more than two years ago and SARC-1 UAS as part of a joint effort with Strategic Simulation Solutions, to display ability to control third party RPA, the advanced cockpit is scheduled to fly with Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper UAVs in the summer of 2013.

Image: The GA-ASI’s Advanced Cockpit is set to fly Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper UAV in late 2013. Photo: United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.

Defence Technology