The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded USD2.6 million in research, education, and training grants to universities that comprise the agency’s Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) also known as Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE). The grants are aimed at continuing and enhancing the safe and successful integration of drones into the nation’s airspace.
US Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao said: “The research funded by these grants will provide valuable data as the Department leads the way to chart a course for the safe integration of drones into our national airspace,” said Secretary Chao. “In addition to providing grants, we are also supporting activities that provide operational experience like the UAS Integration Pilot Program, all of which move us more quickly toward full integration.”
The FAA estimates there are currently 1.7 million drones in the active UAS fleet. That number is expected to grow to 2.2 million by 2023.
There are grants intended to advance specific goals and projects. The COE universities to receive a total of USD2,578,071 for all four grants the awards include:
Research Project: UAS Flight Data Collection and Analysis Phase II
Implementation of the Data Collection System from Phase I for the Information Sets that are not focused on hazards and mitigations.
- University of North Dakota (ND)–lead university–USD74,953
- University of Alaska, Fairbanks (AK) – USD25,000
Research Project: UAS Safety Case Development, Process Improvement, and Data Collection
Develop system to capture/categorize test objectives; Analyze data captured to inform development of regulatory products; Facilitate query and reporting of data in consistent format across UAS Test Sites.
- University of North Dakota (ND)–lead university–USD545,000
- New Mexico State University (NM)–USD149,999
- University of Alaska, Fairbanks (AK) – USD260,000
- Kansas State University (KS)–USD200,000
- Mississippi State University (MS)–USD150,000
- The Ohio State University (OH)–USD174,958
Research Project: Develop Risk-Based Training and Standards for Operational Approval and Issuance
Develop and evaluate the risk-based framework throughout the waiver review process, and document gaps/shortfalls of the framework as it applies to UAS operations review process for Beyond Visual Line of Sight Operations with a Visual Observer.
- Kansas State University (KS)–lead university–USD198,161
- University of North Dakota (ND)- USD150,000
- University of Alaska, Fairbanks (AK) – USD150,000
Research Project: Establish UAS Pilot Proficiency Requirements
Inform FAA regulations and industry standards addressing single pilot and multiple UAS operations.
- Oregon State University (OR)–lead university–USD248,000
- Drexel University (PA)–USD192,000
- Kansas State University (KS)–USD60,000
TOTAL for all four grants: USD2,578,071
The FAA’s COE program is a long-term, cost-sharing partnership between academia, industry and government. Authorized by Congress under the FAA’s Research, Engineering and Development Authorization Act of 1990, this legislation enables the FAA to work with center members and affiliates to conduct research in airspace and airport planning and design, environment and aviation safety, as well as to engage in other activities to assure a safe and efficient air transportation system.
(Image: ASSURE, Courtesy Photo)
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