The first of six test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now operational, two and a half months ahead of schedule. The FAA granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce team a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES small UAS at its Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. The COA is effective for two years, and the team plans to begin flight operations during the week of May 5. The main goal of the initial operations is to show that UAS can check soil quality and the status of crops in support of North Dakota State University/Extension Service precision agriculture research studies. Precision agriculture is one of many industries that represent areas for significant economic opportunity and UAS-industry expansion.
While supporting the precision agriculture project, the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site also will collect safety-related operational data needed for UAS airspace integration. The information will help the FAA analyze current processes for establishing small UAS airworthiness and system maturity. Maintenance data collected during site operations will support a prototype database for UAS maintenance and repair.
Related: Unmanned News