FAA Reveals Drone Testing Sites

The FAA on Monday announced six testing sites for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as part of the agency's long-term "roadmap" to integrate drones into the nation's busy airspace.

The testing locations will be set up in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. The FAA plans to open the first site within 180 days, with all six scheduled to start operations in the next few years.

Selected from a pool of 25 applicants in 24 states, the final winners in the bidding process included the University of Alaska, the state of Nevada, New York's Griffiss International Airport, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, and Virginia Tech.

The congressionally mandated sites will provide the airspace needed to conduct research into certification and operational requirements for UAS, with a special emphasis on ensuring they can detect and avoid other aircraft and function autonomously in case the remote pilot is disconnected.

The FAA will not control the sites, which are being funded by the applicants and not the government, but the site operators could potentially charge drone builders to use their restricted airspace to research and test commercial devices.

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