FAA Says First Drone Test Site Is operational In North Dakota, To Begin Flight Operations Next Month

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Monday that its first of six test sites chosen to test unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is operational.

(Image: Unmanned Aircraft)

(Image: Unmanned Aircraft)

North Dakota has taken the lead and its Department of Commerce has been granted a Certificate of Authorization to begin operations using a small drone at its Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. Tests flights of a small Draganflyer X4-ES drone are expected to begin in the week of May 5.

The main aim of this site’s initial operations is to demonstrate that UAS can examine the quality of the soil and the condition of crops in support of North Dakota State University/Extension Service precision agriculture research studies. Precision agriculture, the farming management concept is one of many industries that represent areas for important economic opportunity that could be helped by using drones.

The flight missions focussing on the precision agriculture project are also expected to gather safety-related operational data needed for the overall integration of drones into commercial airspace over the coming years. Maintenance data that is collected during site operations will help a prototype database for UAS maintenance and repair.

In Japan unmanned aircraft are already being used for seeding and spraying. Over the coming years drones may be used to find out disease in crops relying on the development of sensors. With the help of infrared photography and other technology pictures could be taken from above and farmers could be eventually shown the heat or water content of their crops.

The North Dakota COA spreads over two distinct geographical locations. Initial flights of the Draganflyer X4ES will be directed over North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center situated in Carrington, N.D. The second mission is said to be conducted in summer 2014, will fly over Sullys Hill National Game Preserve near Devils Lake, N.D. North Dakota’s test site is a division of new aerospace and business complex at the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

The FAA is working with the test sites to manage their research programs in order to help the FAA securely integrate UAS into the national airspace in the future. Currently the FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working towards developing operational guidelines by the end of 2015; however officials believe the project might take longer than expected. The agency intends to fly as many as 7,500 small commercial drones within five years of getting widespread access to U.S. skies.

Avatar
Richard Meryn
Richard Meryn, Associate Editor Industry Leaders Magazine (www.industryleadersmagazine.com)

Recent Posts

5 Most Expensive Divorce Settlements in History

5 Most Expensive Divorce Settlements in History

Almost half of the marriages end in divorce is an oft-quoted adage, but surprisingly, this is not true in today’s world. The reasons are varied, gender equality, the higher p
13 hours ago
JPMorgan Chase appoints two new CIOS in bid to make its C-suite more diverse

JPMorgan Chase appoints two new CIOS in bid to make its C-suite more diverse

JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank by assets, has appointed two new executives to head its information units in a bid to make its workforce more inclusive and increase racial an
13 hours ago
US solar energy sector sees 7% drop in jobs

US solar energy sector sees 7% drop in jobs

The U.S. solar industry witnessed a 7% cut in jobs due to the coronavirus and increasing use of labor-saving tech in the industry, according to an industry report. Job decline is n
14 hours ago
Blackstone puts in an offer of $1.68 billion for St Modwen

Blackstone puts in an offer of $1.68 billion for St Modwen

Blackstone, the private equity firm, is planning to acquire St Modwen Properties, a logistics and housing developer, for £1.2bn ($1.68 billion) in a bid to take advantage of the P
3 days ago
Tesla to lose millions as Stellantis ends CO2 credit buying deal

Tesla to lose millions as Stellantis ends CO2 credit buying deal

Stellantis, the carmaker formed earlier this year by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA, has revealed that it no longer needs to buy emission credits from Tesla, which will result
4 days ago
AB InBev CEO Brito to step down

AB InBev CEO Brito to step down

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito will step down from his role, effective July 1 and Michel Doukeris will succeed him as the new CEO. Brito, who beca
4 days ago