[Avionics Today April 21, 2014] The FAA announced the first of its six Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) research test sites, North Dakota, is ready to begin testing.
North Dakota's Department of Commerce has received a Certificate of Authorization (COA) to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES UAS at the Northern Plains testing site. The site will begin flight operations in May.
Northern Plains will use the COA to collect safety related operational data needed for UAS airspace integration, while also supporting a precision agriculture project. The site's first operations will be aimed at testing the ability of UAS to check soil quality and the status of crops.
Agriculture is positioned to be one of the largest industries for commercial UAS operations, according to forecasts from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).
“These data will lay the groundwork for reducing risks and ensuring continued safe operations of UAS,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We believe the test site programs will be extremely valuable to integrating unmanned aircraft and fostering America’s leadership in advancing this technology.”