“NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, successfully flew its first mission in the National Airspace System without a safety chase aircraft. This historic flight moves the United States one step closer to normalizing unmanned aircraft operations in the airspace used by commercial and private pilots.
Flying these large remotely-piloted aircraft over the United States opens the doors to all types of services, from monitoring and fighting forest fires, to providing new emergency search and rescue operations. The technology in this aircraft could, at some point, be scaled down for use in other general aviation aircraft.
Flights of large craft like Ikhana, have traditionally required a safety chase aircraft to follow the unmanned aircraft as it travels through the same airspace used by commercial aircraft. The Ikhana flew in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Technical Standard Order 211 — Detect and Avoid Systems — and Technical Standard Order 212 — Air-to-Air Radar for Traffic Surveillance.
The FAA granted NASA special permission to conduct this flight under the authority of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization on March 30. The certificate permitted Ikhana’s pilot to rely ...