New Mexico Joins the Ranks of Federal UAS Test Sites

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., says his measure to solidify southern New Mexico’s position as a test center for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has been signed into law as part of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016.

According to the senator, New Mexico State University’s (NMSU) UAS Flight Test Center was the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) original UAS test center; it served as a model for the six other sites that were authorized by Congress in 2012.

Udall’s language in the new FAA authorization adds NMSU to the list of test ranges that can equally compete for federal projects – a move that will give NMSU parity with the sites authorized in 2012 and help attract business to the region, says the senator.

“Putting New Mexico State University’s UAS Flight Test Center on equal footing with the six test sites across the country will help southern New Mexico retain its role as a leader in UAS technology innovation,” says Udall, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Udall’s provision was originally included as an amendment to the FAA reauthorization bill when it was considered by the Senate Commerce Committee. The legislation was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Friday.

Garrey Carruthers, chancellor of NMSU, says, “Putting NMSU’s UAS flight test center back on a level playing field with the six congressionally authorized flight test sites managed by the FAA will make NMSU more competitive and attractive to businesses and the federal government for research, development, testing and evaluation.”


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