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FAA Announces Six Unmanned Aircraft Test Site Locations

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Monday, December 30, 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced the six sites for testing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The test site operators include the University of Alaska, the State of Nevada, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi and Virginia Tech.

"In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs,” said Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator, in a statement and on a conference call with media.

"The announcement of the six test sites is a welcomed gift to start the New Year as businesses in the geospatial community see unmanned aircraft systems as a revolutionary new platform to provide critical information and geographic data to the citizens of the United States,” said John Palatiello, MAPPS Executive Director. "MAPPS congratulates the six operating locations and commends the FAA for this announcement.”

The FAA stated the intent of the test sites is for research and development of safety standards and these facilities and locations are to be open for commercial users.  The ability to access the six test sites by commercial entities must be brokered directly with each test site operator.

 "MAPPS members are encouraged to work with these test site operators to research and develop their UAS platforms, data acquisition systems, and applications, as well as to assure full commercial participation in order to prevent unfair university or government competition,” Palatiello said.

Some interesting items to note:

  • The University of Alaska includes test site locations in Hawaii and Oregon;
  • Virginia Tech’s selection includes a MOU with Rutgers University in New Jersey;
  • As mandated in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012, the first test site will be operational within 180 days. The test sites will be operation through the end of the current authorization that expires in 2017. This will overlap with the mandated introduction of UAS in the national airspace in 2015;
  • The FAA is not providing funding for the test site locations. Each of the test site operators are providing operational funding through their own means

 


Tags:  Aircraft  FAA  Geospatial  Policy  UAS  UAV  Unmanned Aircraft Systems 

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