FAA Names Drone Testing Sites in 6 States

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More drones could be flying overhead in a neighborhood near you, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has chosen six states to serve as test sites for the unmanned vehicles. Drones will be tested performing a variety of functions from public safety to product delivery. Proposals were submitted by 24 states to be part of the program.

According to the FAA, the agency considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk in evaluating potential test sites. The Administration says that the states chosen create a representative sample for the US and its various challenges for drone use.

The six sites include: the University of Alaska; the state of Nevada; New York’s Griffiss International Airport; the North Dakota Department of Commerce;Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Virginia already has a cybersecurity and defense initiative underway called Semper Secure, drone testing done at Virginia Tech will likely dovetail into that work.

The University of Alaska proposal also includes test sites in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. The state of Nevada plans to focus on operator certification standards along with climate and geographic testing.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport will focus on examining how drones will fit in congested airspace like that of the busy Northeast corridor. The airport will also look at aiding in sense and avoid capabilities for drones. North Dakota plans to develop drone airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology.

Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for drones. Each test site operator will manage the test site in a way that will give access to parties interested in using the site. The pilot period for these six sites is slated to extend through 2017, and all states involved have noted that they expect to see drone related job growth through their projects. CivSource will begin coverage on domestic drone initiatives this year. Look out overhead.