Friday, February 15, 2013

Search on for UAV test sites

WASHINGTON -- The federal government Thursday began to solicit proposals for six test sites where unmanned aircraft will be put through tests in preparation for their eventual integration into U.S. airspace. The six locations, which have generated interest from more than 30 states, will become the primary testing grounds for unmanned aerial systems, scheduled to enter U.S. airspace in September 2015. The sites also will be used to address safety concerns, such as what happens if a drone has an equipment failure or operator error, according to FAA officials. The FAA had given itself a Dec. 31, 2012, deadline to name the six sites but the effort was delayed. It's unclear when the six winners will be chosen. (Source: Washington Times, 02/14/13) Gulf Coast note: The region is involved in building and using UAVs. Fire Scouts and Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; a UAV flight center opened at Camp Shelby, Miss., last spring; UAVs are used at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Okaloosa County, Fla., is developing an indoor unmanned systems center; the region is also involved in non-aerial unmanned systems, notably underwater.