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Global Hawk Earns Military Airworthiness Certification

By USAF Capt. Bob Everdeen
Wright-Patterson AFB OH (SPX) Jan 31, 2006
Global Hawk became the first unmanned aerial system to complete the military airworthiness certification process and be granted a military airworthiness certificate during a ceremony Jan. 25 at Aeronautical Systems Center here.

"This is a historic event. The aircraft was evaluated against over 500 technical criteria in order to get this certification."

Randy Brown, Global Hawk Systems Group director, signed the official Airworthiness Certificate, which recognizes the ability of Global Hawk to operate within the National Airspace System in accordance with the Certificate of Authorization issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

"This is a historic event," Brown said. "The aircraft was evaluated against over 500 technical criteria in order to get this certification."

The military airworthiness process can be summarized in three steps.

The first step requires the development and approval of a Tailored Airworthiness Certification Criteria document for use as the basis for certification.

The system design is then evaluated for compliance with the Tanker Airlift Control Center.

Finally, any non-compliance must be assessed for operational safety risks and all identified risks accepted by the appropriate authority.

This process is controlled by the Aeronautical Systems Center Airworthiness Review Board and requires close coordination with functional experts within the Aeronautical Systems Center Engineering Directorate.

"This is another step in proving the Global Hawk's reliability," Brown said. "We're proud of the accomplishments we've achieved over the past few months and look forward to building on those successes in 2006."

The Air Force has taken delivery of five production Global Hawks, and two of those aircraft have recently started flying missions in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

Global Hawk aircraft have flown more than 5,000 flight hours in combat operations.

The Air Force is also working toward air worthiness certification for the Navy Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration aircraft, scheduled to be delivered to Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md., in the coming months.

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