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Second Of Six FAA Test Sites For Unmanned Aircraft Systems Ready

As one of the six test sites chosen by the FAA to perform unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research, the University of Alaska's unmanned aircraft system test site is ready to operate and has been granted a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) that is effective for two years.

Flights will be conducted by Aeryon Scout small UAS for animal surveys at its Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex in Fairbanks, which began wildlife flight operations. The UAS' main purpose is to demonstrate how to accurately locate, identify, and count wild animals, such as caribou, reindeer, musk ox, and bear for surveillance. Flights are taking place at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Large Animal Research Station (LARS).

"Alaska has a history of innovation in manned aviation, and now they are bringing that pioneering spirit into the unmanned aircraft arena as well,” says 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.”

This site will also be used to gather safety-operation data for UAS integration. In addition, the Fairbanks International Airport, because of its location, will serve as a resource for the research site as the flights will examine air traffic controllers’ coordination to help FAA analyze UAS in the national airspace.

“The test site program is forging ahead just as we expected,” says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “The University of Alaska Fairbanks program is important because it includes a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones, so it will give us a wealth of data to help develop appropriate safety regulations and standards.”

The data will help lead wildlife survey operations at multiple locations in Alaska and will also help operations near airports in Alaska and its partner test sites in Oregon and Hawaii.

This is the second of the six FAA test sites to announce its readiness. In April, the North Dakota Department of Commerce was granted a COA and planned to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES at its Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems test site the week of May 5.

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