Nevada, Northern Plains, Virginia Tech test sites chosen to manage DoT drone pilot projects

The Nevada UAS Test Site Smart Silver State; Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site; and the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership have been announced as the commercial service entities that will develop technology to manage the airspace for the drone pilot projects announced by the US Department of Transportation in 2018.

“As you may recall, the Department selected 10 pilot projects from around the country to test the safe operation of drones in a variety of conditions currently prohibited by law,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, speaking at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington DC on 14 January. “Today we are announcing three contracts that have been awarded to commercial service entities to develop technology to provide flight planning, communications, separation and weather services for these drones, which will operate under 400 feet. This unmanned aircraft traffic management system will be separate from, but complementary to, the traditional FAA air traffic management system.  It will create a shared information network, and gather data that can be used for future rulemakings.”

According to the Department: “The pilot project, through September 2019, is intended to develop and demonstrate a traffic management system to safely integrate drone flights within the nation’s airspace system. Also, the pilot project will create a shared information network and gather data that can be used for future rulemakings.”

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