FAA approves further Kansas UAS test flights

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved additional test flights, authorising the Kansas Department of Transportation to conduct UAS airport inspection flights at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport from 16 September 2019. Several inspection missions are planned, including foreign object detection, wildlife hazard management and airfield emergency response. Operations will be conducted as part of the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP). According to KDOT, the authorization was received through partnership with the Wichita Airport Authority, Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus and George Butler Associates (GBA). KDOT notes that K-State Polytechnic and GBA are part of a joint operations crew to establish procedures and operating methodology for the airport operations personnel.

The authorization includes an FAA waiver to conduct night operations at the airport, and allows for KDOT to provide critical data to the FAA on UAS integration in complex airspace. Operations will focus on the integration of UAS to increase efficiency at the airport by condensing the process time in half and improving accuracy.

“Incorporating UAS into a range of airport lines of business, such as detecting foreign object debris on runways, defective airfield markings and the integrity of the security infrastructure may be done more effectively and efficiently than current methodologies,” explains Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at K-State Polytechnic.

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