NASA's Ikhana, a modified General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Predator B, conducts engine run-up before a pre-dawn takeoff on the first test flight of the new ADS-B aircraft tracking technology on an unmanned aircraft system. (NASA /Tony Landis) NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center checked out operation of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, device on the center's medium-class Ikhana (Predator B) Unmanned Aircraft System March 15.
The checkout flight marked the first time an unmanned aircraft as large as Ikhana - with a 66-foot wingspan, a takeoff weight of more than 10,000 pounds and a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet - has flown while equipped with ADS-B. ADS-B is an on-aircraft position tracking technology that all planes operating in certain U.S. airspace must have installed and operating by January 2020 to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
The research flight also was the first of actual flight hardware being developed in the NASA Aeronautics research project known as UAS in the NAS, short for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System.
Read More on the ADS-B flight validation on the Ikhana unmanned aircraft system.