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FAA Starts UAS Test Site Selection Process
by Staff Writers
Arlington, VA (SPX) Mar 09, 2012

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On 7 March, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a request for public comment on the selection process for six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites (comments due by 9 May), following Congressional language in both a defense spending bill (passed 31 Dec. 2011), and the FAA reauthorization bill (passed 14 Feb. 2012), requiring the FAA to create six UAS test sites around the United States.

However, before the FAA issues a request for proposals to select the actual test sites, the FAA first needs help developing the test site requirements, designation standards, and oversight activities.

Along with creating UAS test sites, Congress also called for the full integration of UAS by 30 Sept. 2015. So, in addition to allowing for more UAS operations, including by commercial operators, the goal of the test sites is to help the FAA develop the regulatory framework to govern the widespread use of UAS in the national airspace.

"Unmanned aircraft will be the next big revolution in the aerospace industry, and the creation of these test sites will mark the beginning of what will one day be a common occurrence, manned and unmanned aircraft safely flying together in the same airspace" said AUVSI President and CEO Michael Toscano.

"AUVSI applauds Congress's foresight on creating these test sites, and looks forward to working with the FAA, aviation stakeholders, and the general public, to ensure UAS operations are conducted in a safe and transparent manner."

There are currently dozens of non-military uses of unmanned systems, including the use for law enforcement, firefighting, border surveillance, disaster surveillance, aerial photography, wildlife monitoring, agriculture applications, news coverage, mapping and more.

The field of unmanned systems is changing rapidly, that it is likely we have not fully comprehended all of the potential uses. However, one thing is clear unmanned systems are here to stay.

The public comment period will be open for 60 days following the official publication in the federal register on Friday, 9 March. Responses will be limited to 2.5 pages per question, with a maximum response of 20 pages (using 12pt font size).

Related Links
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
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