UND, CAE sign contracts with General Atomics for UAS training

By Patrick C. Miller | May 25, 2016

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. is partnering with the University of North Dakota Aerospace Foundation and Canadian flight simulator company CAE to expand the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for commercial applications.

General Atomics announced the collaboration on Wednesday, saying the new arrangement would create high-technology jobs and establish North Dakota as a leader in the remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) industry.

Linden Blue, General Atomics CEO, said the contracts would align UND Aerospace and CAE to augment the company’s RPA Training Academy currently under development at the Grand Sky Business and Technology Park located at the Grand Forks (North Dakota) Air Force Base. The Air Force base also serves as the base of operations for U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection Predator B aircraft.

According to General Atomics, the training academy will provide safe, effective and cutting-edge flight training for aircrew operating the company’s aircraft. It could potentially augment training programs for the Air Force and General Atomics’ other customer training programs.  The training of General Atomics aircrews begins this summer and will be followed by international customer training in the fall. 

In addition, General Atomics said it will expand its current worldwide partnership with CAE, recognized as a global leader in the delivery of training for the defense and civil aviation markets.

“We look forward to working with UND Aerospace and CAE to meet the growing global demand for RPA instruction,” Blue said.

UND Aerospace will provide its Predator Mission Aircrew Training System (PMATS)—a flight simulator that accurately reproduces Predator and Reaper pilot and sensor operator aircrew stations—enabling students to master flying and operating a General Atomics RPA system.

In March 2011, UND Aerospace became the first non-military educational institution in the U.S. to provide initial qualification and continuation training simulation support for operators of the Predator and Reaper aircraft. UND Aerospace will also support the training academy with additional facilities and instructors.

General Atomics said CAE will grow its partnership with the company through simulator development efforts and by contributing a portion of the academy’s instructors. CAE plans to leverage its experience and expertise in providing the U.S. Air Force with MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper classroom, simulator and live flying instruction.

CAE was recently contracted to develop a Predator Mission Simulation Trainer that will be delivered to the Italian Air Force in 2017, enabling the service to conduct training for its Predator and MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators. The high-fidelity Predator trainer will allow rapid transition to flight operations without further training on the aircraft.


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