No Need for the Real Thing

A team at Edwards AFB, Calif., is aiming to show the Global Hawk can fly in icy conditions. But rather than waiting for the real thing, the Global Vigilance Combined Test Force is 3-D printing “ice” to use during flight-testing, according to a May 13 release. The nylon attachments mimic the effects icing would have on the aircraft during ascent and descent, according to the release. The main concern is a cloud deck between 8,000 and 22,000 feet. Flight-testing, which began in April and continued through Friday, has shown aircraft can fly even if it picks up bits of ice, according to the CTF. The Global Hawk is still prohibited from flying in known icing conditions, according to the team, but the tests might open the door to easing those restrictions. Icing is a known threat to some RPAs. In April, Air Combat Command released an abbreviated investigation report that found a MQ-1B remotely piloted aircraft crashed because it was inadvertently flown into clouds, which caused icing.