Washington DC: NASA has for the first time successfully flown its large remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft in the public airspace without a safety chase airplane, the US space agency said on Wednesday.
"This historic flight moves the US one step closer to normalising unmanned aircraft operations in the airspace used by commercial and private pilots," NASA said in a statement.
Flying these large remotely-piloted aircraft over the US opens the doors to services such as monitoring and fighting forest fires to providing new emergency search and rescue operations, according to NASA.
The technology in this aircraft could, at some point, be scaled down for use in other general aviation aircraft, it said.
"This is a huge milestone for our Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System project team," said Ed Waggoner, NASA's Integrated Aviation Systems Program