FAA Grants Textron Systems Special Airworthiness Certificate to Operate Aerosonde® Unmanned Aircraft in Civil Operations

March 07, 2023

Advances Integration of UAS into National Airspace System

BLACKSTONE, Va., March 7, 2023 – Textron Systems Corporation, a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company, announced today it has been issued a special airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct civil unmanned aircraft operations at its Unmanned Systems Service and Support Center located in Blackstone, Virginia, adjacent to the Allen C. Perkinson Blackstone Army Airfield (KBKT). 

The company received the special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category, abbreviated SAC-EC. The rarely granted authority allows Textron Systems to operate its Aerosonde® MK 4.7G unmanned aircraft system (UAS) within the National Airspace System (NAS) as part of initial and recurring proficiency training missions and research and development (R&D) operations. The SAC-EC represents increased flexibility and convenience for the company’s customers, as well as cost savings that result from the ability to train steps away from the classroom at the Unmanned Systems Service and Support Center. 

 "This is a significant achievement because of what it says about the safety of operating unmanned systems in the NAS,” said Wayne Prender, Senior Vice President of Air Systems. “We’ve shown that our Aerosonde system achieves an equivalent level of safety compared to conventional aircraft. We’ve backed that up with more than 600,000 hours of flight time and over 3,000 aeronautical research flights conducted at KBKT airfield to support integration in the NAS.” 

To grant a SAC-EC, the FAA must determine the company’s proposed operations will have no adverse impact on public safety. Obtaining the approval required the company to submit an in-depth Program Letter, Safety Checklist, operating manuals, an approved Maintenance Inspection program, and to host a comprehensive on-site safety evaluation of every component of the aircraft, the ground station, and the aircraft’s launch and recovery equipment. 

Textron Systems’ Aerosonde UAS is a small, high endurance, expeditionary unmanned aircraft. It is powered by a high performance, heavy fuel, direct injection, reciprocating engine and has a broad operational flight envelope. The certification allows the company’s aircraft operators to conduct Visual Line of Sight training and R&D operations in Class D, E, and G airspace.



Textron Systems is a world leader in unmanned air, surface and land products, services and support founded on the combined expertise in our family of brands that includes Textron Systems, Howe & Howe, Lycoming, and ATAC. We harness the unlimited power of teamwork to solve incredible problems across seven specialized domains: air, land, sea, propulsion, weapon systems, electronic systems and test, training & simulation. From product development and manufacturing to training, operations and support, we integrate and offer ingenious and advanced solutions to support defense, aerospace, and other customer missions. For more information, visit www.textronsystems.com.


Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Pipistrel, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, and Textron Systems. For more information, visit: www.textron.com

Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking statements which may project revenues or describe strategies, goals, outlook or other non-historical matters; these statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.


Textron Systems
Public Relations Team


Connect with Textron IR

David Rosenberg, Vice President, Investor Relations
(401) 457-2288
Kyle Williams, Manager, Investor Relations
(401) 457-2288

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