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.
The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in civil airspace raises many technical, policy and procedure questions. To better understand how the aircraft can be integrated into the National Airspace System, the FAA has selected Mississippi State University to lead a research team focused on the safe and successful UAS integration.
The FAA has been working for several months to implement the provisions of Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, "Special Rules for Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems," which will allow for commercial operations in low-risk, controlled environments.
The UAS Pathfinder initiative with industry will explore the next steps in UAS integration beyond the scope of the FAA's proposed Small UAS Rule.
Section 332 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 tasked the FAA with developing a plan to designate permanent areas in the Arctic where small unmanned aircraft could perform research and commercial operations.
- June 10, 2014 – FAA Approves First Commercial UAS Flights over Land
- September 23, 2013 – FAA Opens the Arctic to Commercial Small Unmanned Aircraft
- AFS-80 will provide white paper on second Arctic operation
- Arctic Implementation Plan (PDF)
The first annual UAS Roadmap addresses current and future policies, regulations, technologies and procedures that will be required as UAS operations increase in the nation's airspace. Integration of Civil UAS in the NAS Roadmap (PDF).