WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today said that the State of Nevada’s unmanned aircraft systems test site is ready to conduct research vital to integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. Nevada is the third of six congressionally mandated test sites to become operational.
“Nevada has been on the leading edge of aerospace flight testing for almost 70 years,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today, the state continues that tradition by contributing to the safe and efficient integration of unmanned aircraft into the U.S. aviation system.”
The FAA granted the State of Nevada team a two-year Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to use an Insitu ScanEagle at the Desert Rock Airport located in Mercury, NV. Desert Rock Airport, owned and operated by the Department of Energy, is a private airport and not for general use. The ScanEagle will fly at or below 3,000 feet, monitored by a visual observer and mission commander. Initial flights will verify that a UAS can operate safely at the airport.
Nevada’s research will concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The site’s activities also will 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 integrate with NextGen, the modernization of the national airspace system.
“The UAS test sites will help us identify operational goals as well as safety issues we must consider when expanding the use of unmanned aircraft into our airspace,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “This industry is growing exponentially, and we are working hard to make sure it does so safely.”
The FAA selected six congressionally-mandated test sites on December 30, 2013. The agency is working with the test sites to guide their research programs to help the FAA safely integrate UAS into the national airspace over the next several years.