General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) completed the first flight of the production-representative MQ-9B SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) on March 30, 2020, at its flight operations facility in El Mirage, California.

The company aircraft is being used for ground and flight testing to collect airworthiness data to achieve military type certification for the U.K. Royal Air Force’s SkyGuardian configuration, the Protector RG Mk1. NATO-standard type certification will enable flexible operations in civil airspace, GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue says.

The MQ-9B is built for all-weather performance with lightning protection, damage tolerance, a de-icing system, and a GA-ASI-developed detect and avoid system (DAAS).

“Our detect and avoid system has been extensively tested and not only meets but exceeds the capabilities of the air traffic awareness and avoidance systems used on today’s commercial airliners,” says GA-ASI President David R. Alexander.