New York unmanned aircraft systems test site goes live

FAA Part 107

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FAA announced the Griffiss International Airport unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site in Rome, New York—the fifth of six—is now operational.

FAA granted the Griffiss team a two-year Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to use a PrecisionHawk Lancaster Platform UAS. The Lancaster Platform weighs approximately three pounds and has a wingspan of four feet.

The site’s specific UAS projects include detection of insects, weeds, diseases, crop characteristics, crop biomass and background soil characteristics in two farm fields. Flights will take place at or below 400 feet, and will last up to 60 minutes from takeoff to landing. Eventually, the site also will manage unmanned agricultural research flights from Joint Base Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

The Griffiss team also plans to work on developing test and evaluation processes under FAA safety oversight, and conduct research on sense and avoid capabilities to prevent collisions with other manned and unmanned aircraft.

“The data the Griffiss team plans to acquire and share will help the FAA in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested Northeast airspace,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta said.

FAA said the research at the Griffiss test site will also evaluate methods for scouting agricultural fields using different types of sensors, including visual, thermal and multispectral equipment, which will benefit farmers regionally and nationally. The research will enhance current methods of monitoring crops and provide additional information for continuing field research efforts.

FAA selected six congressionally mandated test sites on Dec. 30, 2013. It said it is working with the test sites to guide their research programs to help the agency safely integrate UAS into the national airspace over the next several years.