68.1 F
San Diego
Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024

Unmanned Aircraft Get a Bit More Freedom To Fly From the FAA

Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s oh no, wait, it


a plane.

For the first time in National Airspace System history, an unmanned aircraft system capable of flying itself for more than 30 hours has received permission to roam more freely over U.S. skies.

Rancho Bernardo-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. announced late last month that one of the company’s signature Predator planes , which are used by the military to gather surveillance information , has received the first experimental airworthiness certificate issued to an unmanned aircraft system by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Altair, a high-altitude version of the second generation Predator B group, can now fly in larger geographical boundaries for purposes of experimental flight training, marketing demonstrations and crew training. Before the new certification level, all unmanned aircraft systems could fly only in restricted airspace for takeoff and landing purposes before ascending to altitudes high above commercial air traffic.

“Operating an FAA-certified unmanned aircraft in civil airspace offers great potential for the technological advancement of scientific and commercial research, while also providing our nation with the operational flexibility to conduct certain homeland security missions,” said Thomas J. Cassidy Jr., the president of General Atomics’ Aircraft Systems Group.

The new experimental airworthiness certification granted to General Atomics is valid for one year and is not remiss of safety rules, including ensuring that the aircraft is flown in only “good weather” conditions. In addition, a pilot and observer must be nearby the Altair while it is in flight, either on the ground or in a “chasing” aircraft.

The Altair has an 86-foot wingspan, 3,000-pound fuel capacity and can fly above 52,000 feet. It is valued at about $5 million.

– – –

Super September:

September appears to have been a good month for CompleteComm, a local tech company that builds complete telecom systems and offers maintenance and monitoring on key systems, voice mail and other popular office features.

The Carlsbad-based company announced two major contracts in the last 30 days, starting with news Sept. 15 that CompleteComm has made a deal with the fastest-growing private company in San Diego County. Client Shop, Inc., a Del Mar-based company recognized last month by the

San Diego Business Journal

as having the greatest local revenue growth since 2002, has signed a two-year, $40,000 contract with CompleteComm.

Client Shop offers free mortgage, insurance and debt leads to consumers online at QuoteMe.com and 4LowRates.com, and over the phone via a call center. Then, on ClientShop.com, the company sells consumer lead information to qualified service professionals. Under the newly announced $40,000 deal, CompleteComm will provide 24-hour monitoring and maintenance for ClientShop.com’s processor and circuit packs, voice terminals, and 300 head set and voice-mail systems.

Another deal involving CompleteComm was announced Sept. 25 and involves APW, a Wisconsin-based company that specializes in support original equipment manufacturers with electronic integrations.

CompleteComm’s deal with APW is for three years and valued at $108,000. Like the deal with Client Shop, CompleteComm will provide 24-hour monitoring and maintenance for APW’s processor and circuit packs, voice terminals, and more than 200 head set and voice-mail systems.

CompleteComm employs nine people locally, but has about 100 certified technicians across the country. The company was founded in 1999.

Send high-tech news to Jessica Long at jlong@sdbj.com. She can also be reached at (858) 277-6359.


Featured Articles


Related Articles