FAA Announces UAS Test Site Operators
A brief description of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future UAS use are below:
- University of Alaska (includes test ranges in Hawaii and Oregon).
The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations.
This test site became operational on May 5, 2014. Read the press release: FAA Announces Alaska UAS Test Site Begins Research Flights.
- State of Nevada.
Nevada's project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant's research will also 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 be integrated with NextGen. Nevada's selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.
This test site became operational on June 9, 2014. Read the press release: FAA Announces Nevada UAS Test Site Now Operational.
- New York's Griffiss International Airport (includes test range locations in Massachusetts).
Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.
This test site became operational on August 7, 2014. Read the press release: FAA Announces New York UAS Test Site Now Operational.
- North Dakota Department of Commerce.
North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota's application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.
This test site became operational on April 21, 2014. Read the press release: FAA Announces First UAS Test Site Operational.
- Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.
Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.
This test site became operational on June 20, 2014. Read the press release: FAA Announces Texas UAS Test Site Now Operational.
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) (includes test ranges in New Jersey, partnered with Rutgers University).
Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.
This test site became operational on August 13, 2014. Read the press release: FAA Announces Virginia Tech UAS Test Site Now Operational.
After a rigorous 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country. In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs.
- Press Release
- News story
- Fact Sheet
- FAA Order Selecting Six UAS Test Sites (PDF)
- Test Site Selection Public Meetings
- UAS Test Site Frequently Asked Questions
Across the six applicants, the FAA is confident that the agency's research goals of System Safety & Data Gathering, Aircraft Certification, Command & Control Link Issues, Control Station Layout & Certification, Ground & Airborne Sense & Avoid, and Environmental Impacts will be met.
Each test site operator will manage the test site in a way that will give access to parties interested in using the site. The FAA's role is to ensure each operator sets up a safe testing environment and to provide oversight that guarantees each site operates under strict safety standards.