The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced the six test sites that will be used for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and testing, with the aim of integrating drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).
After receiving 50 or so proposals from 37 states, the FAA shortlisted 25 proposals and undertook a comprehensive 10-month site selection process to choose six of them.
The six UAS test site operators located in Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Alaska who were selected by the FAA are:-
State of Nevada ‚Äì Nevada‚Äôs project will concentrate on UAS standards and operations, as well as the standards for the operator and their certification requirements.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said in a statement that this was a historic moment for Nevada. He said the state has been preparing for this selection and added that they were ready to enter a new era of aviation history.
Senator Harry Reid likewise said this was wonderful news for Nevada and creates a huge opportunity for the economy.
Steve Hill, director of the Nevada Governor‚Äôs Office of Economic Development (GOED), said that the state‚Äôs selection as one of the six test sites allows them to establish a leadership role and be at the forefront of a new and important future industry. Hill added that the job creation and economic impact will be significant.
New York‚Äôs Griffiss International Airport ‚Äì Their proposal includes a plan for working on developing processes for testing and evaluation as well as verification and validation.
According to the FAA, Griffiss International also plans to focus its research on UAS sense and avoid capabilities, and their sites will aid in research conducted into the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested airspace in the northeast.
North Dakota Department of Commerce – North Dakota‚Äôs plans include developing UAS airworthiness essential data and validating high reliability link technology.
Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi ‚Äì This operator plans to develop system safety requirements for the UAS and the operations they are used in, with a goal of coming up with protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) ‚Äì This operator plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site ranges in Virginia and New Jersey.
University of Alaska ‚Äì This operator‚Äôs proposal offers seven different climatic zones for testing, with test site ranges located in Hawaii and Oregon.
The test site operations are currently scheduled to continue until at least Feb 2017. Visit faa.gov for more information on the test sites and the FAA‚Äôs plans for UAS integration.