NASA UAV Flies Alone in Public Airspace

NASA’s Ikhana aircraft takes off for the agency’s first large-scale, remotely piloted aircraft flight in the national airspace without a safety chase aircraft. (NASA Photo/Ken Ulbrich)

NASA’s remotely piloted Ikhana aircraft successfully flew its first mission in the National Airspace System without a safety chase aircraft on Tuesday. 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.

The flight was the first remotely piloted aircraft to use airborne detect and avoid technology to meet the intent of the FAA’s “see and avoid” rules, with all test objectives successfully accomplished.