All Six UAS Test Sites Are Now Officially In Business

Posted by Betsy Lillian on August 13, 2014 No Comments
Categories : Policy & Regulations

Just days after the New York unmanned aerial systems (UAS) test site went live, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s UAS test site is open – making all six sites now operational.

To mark the event, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, along with other officials, viewed a demonstration of the Smart Road Flyer, a low-cost, low-risk multi-rotor UAS being developed to support research in vehicle and highway systems.

During the flight, the Flyer filmed a simulated accident scene on the “smart road” full-scale test-bed highway managed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

“We have undertaken the challenge of safely integrating a new and exciting technology into the busiest, most complex airspace in the world,” says Anthony Foxx, transportation secretary. “The six test sites are going to play a key role in helping us meet that challenge.”

The FAA granted Virginia Tech seven Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) for two years. Other UAS models, in addition to the Smart Road Flyer, include an eSPAARO, Aeryon Sky Ranger, MANTRA2, Sig Rascal and two AVID EDF-8 micro UAS.

UAS operations will occur at test areas in Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland. Research in the three states will eventually include agricultural spray equipment testing, development of aeronautical procedures for integration of UAS flights in a towered airspace, and developing training and operational procedures for aeronautical surveys of agriculture.

The FAA selected six congressionally mandated test sites on Dec. 30, 2013, and says it is working with the sites to guide their research programs to help the FAA safely integrate UAS into the national airspace over the next several years.

Virginia Tech is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, consisting of academia, government, industry, economic development agencies and nonprofit organizations throughout Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland.

The first site to come online was North Dakota in April. The Alaska site went live the next month, and the Nevada and Texas sites came online in June.

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