The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), GE Aviation Systems and AAI Corporation have signed an agreement to perform a variety of operational and technical assessments to support integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS).

Under the agreement, GE will use its flight management system to achieve reliable trajectory-based control of UAS and evaluate trajectory-based operations of UAS in the NAS.

AAI, on the other hand, will provide its Shadow tactical unmanned aircraft system for demonstration flights and simulation using GE flight management system.

The simulation will take place at FAA’s William J Hughes Technical Center beginning in 2009 and will continue for two years.

AAI vice-president of unmanned aircraft systems Steven Reid said UASs were expanding into more roles in military and commercial applications. This is a critical point in the development of the industry to get ahead of the demand.

“Working with the FAA helps us understand the issues facing integration into the NAS, and we offer our industry expertise to assist,” he added.

The results of these cooperative efforts will demonstrate the ability to integrate certified flight management capability into existing US military UAS to operate in national airspace.

GE aviation president of avionics Chris Beaufait said the cooperative research and development agreement (CRDA) between FAA and the industry partners directly supports the development of the FAA NextGen air traffic management system.