FAA nixes Colorado as drone test site
Last Updated: 18:31 December 30, 2013
University of Colorado officials organized and submitted a state application in May to become one of the six sites to test drones.
The FAA announced Monday that it selected teams based in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. Several teams included other states in their bids, meaning drone testing also will take place in Hawaii, Oregon and New Jersey.
The FAA chose the six teams out of 25 proposals in 24 states. The congressionally mandated test sites will conduct research into the certification and operational requirements to safely integrate drones into the national airspace over the next several years, according to an FAA press statement. Economic impact for the areas selected has been predicted to reach $1 billion and create thousands of jobs. Congress has authorized the test sites to operate through 2017.
Here are brief descriptions of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future unmanned-aircraft systems, according to the FAA:
University of Alaska. The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climate zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations.
State of Nevada. Nevada's project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant's research will also include a concentrated look at how air-traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment.
New York's Griffiss International Airport. Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested Northeast airspace.
North Dakota Department of Commerce. North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high-reliability link technology. This applicant will conduct research into human factors. North Dakota's application was the only one to offer a test range in the temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace that will benefit multiple users.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing, and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test sites in Virginia and New Jersey.
Civilian uses for drones include agriculture, forest-fire support, disaster assessment, search and rescue missions, oil and gas exploration and research projects, according to a letter sent from Colorado leaders to the FAA in the test-site request.
Gov. John Hickenlooper and Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in addition to other Colorado politicians backed the idea of a drone test site in Colorado. In May, Udall said Colorado's strong aerospace industry could support such a test site.
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