First UAS Test Site Working, FAA Reports

The first of six test sites chosen to perform unmanned aircraft systems research, located in North Dakota, is now operational.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that the first of its six test sites chosen to perform unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research is operational. The UAS test site is operational more than two months before the deadline given by Congress; it is in North Dakota.

According to the FAA, the agency granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce team a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to start using a Draganflyer X4ES small UAS at its Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. The team plans to begin using the system the week of May 5. The COA, which is effective for two years, covers two regions over North Dakota: North Dakota State University's Carrington Research Extension Center located in Carrington, N.D. and Sullys Hill National Game Preserve near Devils Lake, N.D.

The goal of the site's initial operations is "to show that UAS can check soil quality and the status of crops in support of North Dakota State University/Extension Service precision agriculture research studies." In addition, the site will collect safety-related operational data needed for UAS airspace integration.

"North Dakota has really taken the lead in supporting the growing unmanned aircraft industry," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We look forward to the contributions they and the other test sites will make toward our efforts to ensure the safe and efficient integration of UAS into our nation's skies."

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