The California State Parks system has been looking at small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) applications to conduct research and development efforts, land surveys, facilities management, and resource monitoring of the parks.
On March 17th, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for the Monarch AG to be used for aerial survey in the California State Park System. A COA permits public agencies and organizations to operate a particular aircraft, for a particular purpose, in a particular area. The COA allows an operator to use a defined block of airspace and includes special safety provisions unique to the proposed operation. The FAA approved this COA to “prescribe UAS operating requirements in the National Airspace System (NAS) for the purpose of research and development focused on improving techniques and procedures for applications with very small UAS.”
The Monarch AG is a multi-rotor UAS designed for precision agriculture, with a dual sensor package, near infrared (NIR) and visible. Eileen Shibley, CEO of Monarch, Inc, stated that this COA will provide much-needed information to the Parks Service that cannot be obtained any other way at the same level of precision and spatial resolution. “We are so excited to be the first small UAS company to provide this service to the California Parks Department. It’s a huge responsibility and we’re up to it with the Monarch aircraft and our stellar team of professionals.” Monarch, Inc. is located in Ridgecrest, CA in the Aerospace Corridor and home to aviation milestones for decades, and is within close proximity of many of California’s beautiful State Parks. “I believe that this COA is significant because it indicates that companies with humble beginnings such as ours can make significant progress in this era of new aviation” said Jeff Parisse, Monarch’s Director of Robotics.
This is one of the very few FAA COAs approved to survey state parks in the United States, and it will lead the way in utilization of UASs for managing state park resources. This activity will also assist in defining integration of UASs into the NAS. This COA for the California Parks Department and Monarch is effective for two years until March 17, 2017.