A general Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft arrives at RAF Fairford after completing the first transatlantic flight for such an aircraft, on July 11, 2018 in Gloucestershire, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Getty Images

First Civilian-Registered Drone Completes Historic Transatlantic Flight

SkyGuardian unmanned aircraft took 24 hours to fly from U.S. to England.

A civilian-registered, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems SkyGuardian drone just made history. It became the first Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) to complete a transatlantic flight. The unmanned aircraft touched down at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England, after a flight of 4,327 miles from Grand Forks, North Dakota. The flight took 24 hours and two minutes.

This flight was meant to show the capabilities of the drone, as well as commemorate the centenary of the Royal Air Force. The RAF has operated the MQ-9 Reaper drone for over a decade and recently agreed to purchase the MQ-9B SkyGuardian version, which has a wingspan of 79 feet and can travel up to 242 mph.

“This historic event was a demonstration of the endurance and civil airspace capability of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, and it is fitting to do this as part of the centennial celebration of the RAF,” says Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “The successful flight of the MQ-9B is the culmination of the hard work and innovation of our dedicated employees, and the strong relationships that we enjoy with the RAF, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and our UK industry partners such as Cobham.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.