GA-ASI Demonstrates Next Generation Ground Control Station

Jul 25, 2007

New Advanced Cockpit Successfully Controls Mission-Configured Predator UAS

SAN DIEGO – 25 July 2007 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and tactical reconnaissance radars, today announced that it has successfully demonstrated the company’s next generation Advanced Cockpit Ground Control Station (GCS) during the flight of a mission-configured MQ-1 Predator® UAS. This flight demonstration conducted at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., was completed only 14 months following the Internal Research and Development (IRAD) redesign of the Advanced Cockpit GCS.

All objectives were achieved during the flight in which Level 4 control was demonstrated, including manual launch and recovery mode using the Advanced Cockpit’s stick and throttle commands. Airspeed, Heading, and Altitude Hold modes performed as designed throughout the test flight. A second test flight of 68 minutes was also successfully completed the next day on July 24th.

“We applied our 15 years and over 300,000 flight hours worth of experience to successfully design and produce the next generation Predator series cockpit,” said Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr. president, Aircraft Systems Group, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. “The Advanced Cockpit GCS sets the standard with intuitive touch-screen technology, superior ergonomic design, and remarkable wide-screen video presentations that dramatically expand all visual cues provided to the pilot and sensor operator. With GA-ASI-produced aircraft now flying more than 8,000 flight hours per month, the proven Advanced Cockpit GCS will provide operators with improved situational awareness [SA], reduced pilot workload, and the edge needed to ensure continued success in combat supporting our troops.”

The Advanced Cockpit represents state-of-the-art hardware and software technology offering the following features and benefits:


  • Can be retrofitted into existing U.S. Air Force (USAF), U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or NASA fixed facility and fielded GCS shelters.

  • Based on STANAG 4586 architecture, providing interoperability across various UAS.

  • Reengineering of various human factors considerations designed to increase situational awareness, greatly reduce operator workload by providing intuitive interfaces, make potentially hazardous situations easier to identify, and generally improve the decision-making process. These enhancements include:

    • An optimized crew station design with intuitive controls and information displays
    • Touch-screen technology
    • Anthropometric considerations such as adjustable displays, controls, and ergonomic seating
    • Fused SA data providing a Common Operating Picture on a single display
    • MIL-STD-1472 compliance and other human factors standards
    • Improved synthetic video with graphical overlays and a 120-degree field-of-view with terrain avoidance and threats/special use air space embedded into 3D graphics
    • High-definition (HD) video feeds supported
  • In-house development by GA-ASI – the manufacturer of the Predator, Predator B and Sky Warrior® unmanned aircraft systems – offers much lower technical risk than if produced by a third party vendor.

  • Parallel STANAG 4586-based Core UAS Control System (CUCS) / Vehicle Specific Module (VSM) development will support quick-reaction requirements for system upgrades.

The Advanced Cockpit has been designed by a dedicated team, including experienced company and USAF pilots and sensor operators, as well as systems, mechanical, software, and electrical engineers. In addition, GA-ASI has contracted with the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) from Wichita State University – one of the top human factors think-tanks in the world – to validate the Cockpit’s anthropometric and HSI design efforts.

The Advanced Cockpit IRAD effort began in early 2006, and in June 2007 the USAF issued a sole-source Request for Proposal (RFP) to GA-ASI for the Advanced Cockpit development for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper UAS. Completion of the Advanced Cockpit under the RFP requirements is expected in 2009.

High-resolution photos and video of GA-ASI’s new Advanced Cockpit GCS are available upon request from the company’s public relations manager.

About GA-ASI

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., an affiliate of General Atomics, provides comprehensive solutions for military and commercial applications worldwide. The company’s Aircraft Systems Group is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable unmanned aircraft systems, including Predator, Predator B, and Sky Warrior, and provides pilot training and support services for UAS field operations. The Aircraft Systems Group has been awarded the SDD phase of the U.S. Army’s ER/MP UAS Program and is currently developing the next-generation Army Sky Warrior UAS, featuring a heavy-fuel engine, triple-redundant avionics and increased armament capability. The Reconnaissance Systems Group designs, manufactures, and integrates the Lynx® SAR/GMTI radar onto both manned and unmanned aircraft, as well as the integrated Magnum (Raptor View) high-resolution EO/IR sensor package. Leading the industry to new levels of performance, reliability, and operational capability since its establishment in 1993, the company has expanded the acceptance and application of UAS within the United States and among allied forces around the globe. GA-ASI is dedicated to providing long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with the integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent situational awareness and rapid strike capabilities. For more information, please visit

Predator, Sky Warrior and Lynx are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

For more information contact:

Kimberly Kasitz
Public Relations Manager
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

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