Mississippi State University to lead US safety programme

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has designated Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory as the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Safety Research Facility. The facility will lead federal unmanned aircraft systems research, testing and development of certification standards as UAS become increasingly integrated in the U.S. airspace. The FAA is charged by Congress to develop safety rules regulating UAS or drones.

Along with its partner universities in the FAA’s UAS Center of Excellence programme, Raspet already conducts the vast majority of safety-related UAS research for civil use.  Known as the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, or ASSURE, the Center of Excellence is a leading research coalition of 25 universities and more than 100 government and industry partners.

Integrating UAS into the National Airspace System would enable manned and unmanned aircraft to safely operate side by side using many of the same air traffic management systems and procedures.

Issues Raspet has been and will be addressing in its role as the UAS Safety Research Facility include:

  • Validating and verifying results, recommendations and conclusions of UAS safety research from around the world.
  • Developing safety-based recommendations to inform FAA decisions on UAS policy, regulation and safety guidance.
  • Investigating technologies that enable UAS to accurately and reliably detect other aircraft and adjust the course of the UAS to maintain safe distances; successful implementation of these detect-and-avoid systems would permit UAS to safely operate beyond visual line of sight—a critical threshold for UAS to reach full potential.
  • Serving as a performance evaluation testbed for emerging UAS technologies.

“Raspet has a rich heritage of aviation development and testing, and we’re building upon that foundation by providing the FAA with research needed to quickly, safely and efficiently integrate UAS into the National Airspace System,” said Dallas Brooks, Raspet director. “We’re proud the FAA has selected us as their UAS Safety Research Facility, and we’re looking forward to working together to ensure the benefits of this amazing technology are realized without compromising safety.”

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