The Federal Aviation Administration announced today Indiana is not one of the chosen sites for unmanned aircraft systems, or drone, research and testing.
The Indiana-based National Center for Complex Operations and the Ohio-based Unmanned Aerial Systems Center and Test Complex announced a partnership last year to bid for a federal designation as a test site for drone technology.
The six congressionally-mandated test sites chosen will conduct research into how unmanned vehicles can be safely incorporated into the national airspace over the next several years.
Lia Reich is a spokesperson for Precision Hawk, an unmanned aerial systems and remote sensing company based in Noblesville, Indiana. She says the decision is disappointing from an economic standpoint but she says there’s a lot of research in the state that will continue despite not being chosen as an FAA test site.
“Universities are able to officially fly for research purposes so for us to be able to partner with the universities here in the state that are well respected and well recognized and start to do a lot of specific research that will really prepare the state of Indiana for economic impact when the national airspace does open, hopefully in 2015,” Reich says.
The FAA provides a brief description of the six test site operators chosen and the research they will conduct:
- University of Alaska. The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic 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 and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen. Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.
- 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 also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aide 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 also conduct human factors research. 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 which 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).Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.
The FAA says it considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk in the selection process. The six test sites chosen achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity to help the FAA meet its UAS research needs.