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FAA Selects Unmanned Aircraft System Testing Sites

Jan. 2, 2014

The FAA announced on Dec. 30 the congressionally mandated selection of six research and test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The six test-site operators selected by the FAA are: the University of Alaska; the state of Nevada; New York's Griffiss International Airport (RME); the North Dakota Department of Commerce; Texas A&M University Corpus Christi; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

NBAA: Safety Focus, Continuing Industry Input Needed

"At NBAA, safety is always our top priority, so it is therefore imperative that any introduction plan for UAS be thoughtful, deliberative and focused on safety," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "This means UAS should not share the same airspace with manned aircraft unless they meet the same certification and airworthiness standards as manned aircraft, including the ability to take timely directions from air traffic control, and to sense and avoid other aircraft and UAS. Additionally, we oppose any steps taken in introducing the aircraft that would reduce or restrict access for business aviation to airspace or airports.

Bolen noted that NBAA representatives continually emphasize the Association's position on UAS development with FAA officials as participants on the FAA's government-industry UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which the agency formed to ensure a deliberative process including continuing guidance from all aviation stakeholders for ensuring the safe introduction of UAS into the aviation system.

"The FAA's announcement reflects the agency's emphasis on a methodical, safety-focused approach to UAS introduction, which is consistent with the agency's decades-long history of safely integrating new airports, aircraft, systems and procedures into the aviation system," Bolen said. "The FAA used strict criteria in selecting the testing entities and their locations, including safety, airspace use, aviation experience and availability of ground infrastructure. The FAA has also established requirements for ensuring privacy protections for civilians.

"Industry input will continue to be a central part of the FAA's process for UAS development, and NBAA will keep directly working to ensure that this approach applies as the agency continues its work on UAS introduction," Bolen added.