FAA picks UAV test sites

The winners are in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

unmanned plane

The Federal Aviation Administration has named six sites that will host testing for unmanned aerial vehicles, part of the agency’s plan to integrate UAVs into the national airspace system over the next decade.

The winning hosts are: the University of Alaska; the State of Nevada; Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y.; the North Dakota Department of Commerce; Texas A&M University’s Corpus Christi campus; and Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg.

“Today’s announcement by the FAA is an important milestone on the path toward unlocking the potential of unmanned aircraft,” Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said in a statement. “From advancing scientific research and responding to natural disasters to locating missing persons and helping to fight wildfires, UAS can save time, save money, and, most importantly, save lives.

The FAA said it will use the testing to develop requirements and standards for the aircraft.

The FAA’s drone roadmap, unveiled Nov. 7, outlines its approach to ensuring safety as the use of unmanned aircraft expands. Several companies – including major online retailer Amazon -- have already announced plans to employ drones as part of commercial ventures.

Several states and localities lobbied hard to host the sites -- 25 applications from 24 states were filed, and applicants were eager to claim the jobs and economic benefits expected to accompany the testing. A study by the state of Utah – which was not one of the sites chosen -- showed a potential gain of 23,000 jobs and $23 billion in economic impact over 10 years.

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