SAN DIEGO – San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems successfully completed the first full-scale fatigue test of an MQ-9B drone. The test, which is equivalent to 40,000 flight hours, is an important milestone in the process of certifying the aircraft to NATO’s STANAG 4671 standard.
The full-scale fatigue test simulates actual aircraft service conditions by applying repeated structural loads on the assembled structure. The tests help to identify potential structural deficiencies before the aircraft enters service and to develop inspection and maintenance schedules for the aircraft structure.
“The completion of the fatigue test is a significant milestone for the MQ-9B program,” said Chris Dusseault, MQ-9B vice president, Europe. “The test demonstrates that the SkyGuardian/SeaGuardian airframe meets stringent design requirements and is a mature system that is ready for entry into service.”
The test was conducted at the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. The airframe tested was a production airframe designed specifically to support the test campaign.
“We are proud to have successfully completed this critical test,” said David Alexander, GA-ASI vice president of engineering. “The test demonstrates the robust reliability and durability of the MQ-9B airframe.”
MQ-9B is GA-ASI’s most advanced drone and includes the SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian models, as well as the new RG Mk 1 Protector currently being delivered to the U.K. Royal Air Force.