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General Atomics announces plans to open RPA training facility in North Dakota

San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., a manufacturer of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, confirmed plans to open an RPA training academy in Grand Forks, N.D.

GA-ASI has signed a 10-year lease and is expecting to break ground soon. GA-ASI flight crew training will commence early next year and the company expects to welcome its first foreign military sales (FMS) customers shortly thereafter.

Working with leading industry training experts, academia, and local North Dakota industry, the training academy in Grand Forks will provide flight instruction to aircrews operating GA-ASI aircraft. In addition to providing increased capacity to train the company's own aircrews, the Training Academy also will train FMS customers who are seeking to grow their aircrew numbers to meet current operational demand.

The training academy will offer multiple courses per year using U.S. government-approved curricula, with the potential of training up to 60 flight crews per year. In addition to training, the academy also may conduct RPA airspace integration systems testing.

Over the last two decades, GA-ASI has trained hundreds of company and customer aircrews at its Gray Butte and El Mirage Flight Operations facilities near Palmdale, Calif. Opening the North Dakota Training Academy will provide an additional resource to meet growing worldwide demand for RPA training operations, as well airspace integration testing.

GA-ASI will operate from a five-and-a-half acre location within the Grand Sky complex which is co-located on Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB). The Grand Forks AFB presently serves as the base of operations for U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection Predator B aircraft and MQ-1 Predator A aircraft operated by the North Dakota Air National Guard.

GA-ASI is working closely with the FAA, the Air Force, and the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site to ensure smooth integration into the airspace over North Dakota. The company also is involved in several internally-funded and joint initiatives with the U.S. Government that are intended to improve the detect-and-avoid system redundancy of its RPA systems to a level greater than that available to most traditional manned aircraft.

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