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AAI's Shadow® is first unmanned aircraft demonstrated with a flight management system certified for commercial manned aircraft

AAI Corporation, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today that its Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System has performed the first "proof of concept" flight demonstration of an unmanned aircraft controlled by a four-dimensional trajectory (4DT) flight management system (FMS) certified for use in manned commercial aircraft. It was conducted at the U.S. Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., in cooperation with GE Aviation Systems, which provided the 4DT FMS, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Army. This Shadow aircraft "proof of concept" flight demonstrated that an unmanned aircraft system can be coupled with certified flight management systems as a potential enabler for eventual 4DT operations in the national airspace system (NAS).

The first flight took off at 2:50 p.m. Central Time on Thursday, December 3, from the Redstone Arsenal Airfield, lasting 45 minutes and demonstrating both lateral and vertical control of the Shadow 200 aircraft coupled with the GE FMS. On Friday, December 4, a three-hour demonstration was conducted that allowed more rigorous testing of the FMS-controlled Shadow 200 aircraft.

The demonstration was part of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, or CRDAs, the FAA entered into with both AAI and GE Aviation Systems to perform operational and technical assessments in support of the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the NAS. Four-dimensional trajectory-based flight management is a critical part of the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System initiatives. Results of this test will be used to conduct 4DT simulations of Shadow aircraft in the NAS at the FAA's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

"This is a momentous event for the unmanned aircraft community," says AAI's Vice President of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Steven Reid. "We have seen America's military embrace the valuable situational awareness and protection that unmanned aircraft can provide, and their mission profiles are expanding continuously as a result. Our Shadow aircraft demonstration with GE Aviation's FMS is a first step toward exploring how unmanned aircraft can deliver those same benefits for homeland security, law enforcement and other missions right here at home."

AAI's Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System has amassed more than 460,000 flight hours with users including the U.S. Army, Army National Guard and Marine Corps. It includes the One System® Ground Control Station (OSGCS), AAI's interoperable command and control platform for unmanned aircraft. In the future, AAI expects to integrate GE Aviation's FMS with the OSGCS, providing this capability to all unmanned aircraft integrated with the ground control station.

Press release issued by Textron Systems Unmanned Systems (AAI) on December 15, 2009


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Textron Systems Unmanned Systems (AAI) Airframer


 Related aircraft programs:
AAI Shadow 200

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