The FAA announced yesterday that the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site at Griffiss International Airport located in Rome, New York is operational. This is the fifth of six test sites to become operational. Test sites have steadily been coming on-line since late April of this year.
The Griffiss test site joins the Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi test site, the State of Nevada test site, the University of Alaska test site, and the North Dakota Department of Commerce test site as operational test sites. Each of these sites has been granted a two-year Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for a different UAS and assigned a primary area of test responsibility directed to assist the FAA in safely integrating UAS into the national airspace system (NAS).
The FAA granted Griffiss International Airport a COA to operate a PrecisionHawk Lancaster Platform UAS, a platform weighing about three pounds and having a four foot wingspan, and tasked the Griffiss team to conduct research on sense and avoid capabilities in order to prevent collisions with other manned and unmanned aircraft.
In addition to providing the FAA with information for the integration of UAS into the NAS, the Griffiss test site will be used to evaluate methods for scouting agricultural fields using a variety of onboard sensors.
With almost all of the test sites being operational, it will be interesting to see how the FAA utilizes the information obtained from these sites as it continues to work on regulations to integrate UAS into the NAS.