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Friday, February 15, 2013

FAA Seeks Proposals for Unmanned Aircraft Testing Sites

Woodrow Bellamy III

FAA moved a step closer to its 2015 goal of integrating civilian and military unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) on Thursday by asking for proposals to develop six research and test sites around the United States.



The 2012 FAA Reauthorization bill tasked the agency with establishing UAS sites to help develop parameters for the integration of UAS into the NAS by 2015. The agency will use the test sites to develop certification and navigation requirements for the aircraft.

“We expect to learn how unmanned aircraft systems operate in different environments and how they will impact air traffic operations. The test sites will also inform the agency as we develop standards for certifying unmanned aircraft and determine necessary air traffic requirements,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

In a statement, FAA said it would be accepting proposals from all eligible state and local governments, universities and other public entities. The proposals will be evaluated based geographical air traffic density, infrastructure and the specific goals and objectives outlined.

In an effort to allow citizens to address their concerns with the integration of these aircraft into the skies over their communities, FAA is allowing a 60 day period where the public can review and comment on a drafted privacy policy governing the operation of the testing sites. The draft is available in the Federal Register.

“States across the country have been eager to receive this FAA designation because they recognize the incredible economic and job creation potential it would bring with it,” said Michael Toscano, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. “While we would prefer the FAA not limit the number of test sites, we applaud the agency for finally taking this important step, which will help create jobs and ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in aviation innovation.”

Applicants now have 80 days to submit their proposals to FAA. More

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