General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) has announced that it flew a MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) to an air base in New Mexico for delivery, as opposed to shipping drone parts for later assembly.
“This is the first time that team Holloman has taken delivery of a new MQ-9 by ferry flight,” said Col. Casey Tidgewell, 49th Operations Group commander.
“On January 8th, GA-ASI for the first time flew a new MQ-9 RPA to a customer location at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Typically a new MQ-9 is packed and shipped by GA-ASI for reassembly after delivery. Ferrying the MQ-9 to Holloman saves costs and time in shipping, reducing time for airmen to reassemble the aircraft, making it available for training immediately upon arrival,” the company said in a statement on April 9.
A key aspect of delivery was flying the RPA through the National Airspace System (NAS) after originating from GA-ASI’s Flight Operations Center in Palmdale, Calif. GA-ASI and Holloman air crews worked together to ensure the successful ferry of the aircraft.
The USAF estimates that ferrying the MQ-9 saved 142 man hours.