Sunday, May 16, 2021

Drones Over America – Nevada Test Site Flies the NASA National Campaign


The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) launched four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) simultaneous on four different public service support scenarios at the Reno-Stead UAV Test Range in close collaboration with the NASA-Ames UAV Command Center.  The importance of this NASA Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) test reflects the complexity of the air traffic flight demonstration today—the other five FAA-designated UAS Test Sites across the National Airspace System (NAS) did the same thing at the same time and we all did it three times—all carefully planned and expertly executed.  The Nevada-NASA team includes the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), NIAS, the University of Nevada-Reno, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, GC2IT, and Flight Research Aerospace.

This NASA National Campaign flight tests are part of the NASA Unmanned Aerial Vehicle “National Campaign” – a first mass-stress test of NASA’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) research platform that also included injected virtual missions near Nevada’s Reno-Stead Airport Test Site to add more realistic UAV traffic to monitor and de-conflict by NASA’s research operators.  This was the first live UTM platform, traffic management, and situational awareness display demonstration to enable UAV traffic to file flight plans, gain approval, and fly safely in the FAA’s NAS while ensuring airspace separation between manned and unmanned aviation.  The NASA UTM research program is supporting the FAA’s development of an air traffic management capability to fully integrate UAVs into the National Airspace and into their sophisticated NextGen ADS-B aircraft flight control system.

Dr. Richard Kelley is the chief engineer for the University of Nevada-Reno’s NAASIC, the research laboratory for autonomous robotic systems and intelligent machine research and industry collaboration, and the lead scientist on the Nevada portion of the Nevada NASA national project.  He is working with NASA to develop low-altitude aircraft management software with the intent on making the airspace safer for aircraft. “It’s exciting to be at the forefront of technological development,” Kelley said. “We’ll be developing and testing several types of software that might integrate even small UAVs safely into the airspace. It’s just beginning, and we’ve already had some successes as NASA continues researching various concepts for potential air traffic management platforms. It’s great to be a part of history with 24 aircraft across the country testing the platforms all at once through the NASA project.  Even more exciting is that Nevada safely launched 32 Nevada UAS Test Site Certificate of Authorization (COA) flights in support to NASA’s UTM research today.”

“Completing this NASA National Campaign demonstrates great collaboration and teamwork between the State of Nevada, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, Nevada Teammates, NASA and the FAA,” reported Chris Walach, the NIAS Director of Operations for Unmanned Aviation and the FAA-designated UAS Test Site.  “The complexity of conducting simultaneous flights significantly ups the ante and realism of integrating manned and unmanned aviation into the National Airspace.  After taking part in a successfully coordinated and executed NASA National Campaign across America, our Nevada UTM Team has earned the reputation as ‘the best of the best’ supporting the NASA UAV research and development programs.  This confidence in the Nevada-NASA team has resulted in NASA selecting the Nevada Reno-Stead Airport Test Range as the primary test site for future NASA UTM testing.”

About GOED: Created during the 2011 session of the Nevada Legislature, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development is the result of a collaborative effort between the Nevada Legislature and Governor Brian Sandoval to restructure economic development in the state. GOED’s role is to promote a robust, diversified and prosperous economy in Nevada, to stimulate business expansion and retention, encourage entrepreneurial enterprise, attract new businesses and facilitate community development. More information on the Governor’s Office of Economic Development can be viewed at

About the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS): On behalf of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, NIAS helps to grow the Autonomous Systems Industry through business teaming, partnerships, research and development, and education awareness in order to bring in business and jobs to the State of Nevada and to facilitate full and safe UAS integration into the National Airspace System.  Learn more at

About the University of Nevada, Reno: Founded in 1874 as Nevada’s land-grant university, the University of Nevada, Reno ranks in the top tier of best national universities.  For more information, visit

About the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority: The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority is the owner and operator of the Reno-Tahoe International and Reno-Stead Airports. It is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees, operates as a business, and receives no local tax dollars.

About GC2IT: Global C2 Integration Technologies is a Nevada based Veteran Owned Business specializing in Command and Control, Intelligence, and Cyber systems integration, and aerospace R&D programs.

About Flight Research Aerospace is a Veteran Owned Business, established in 2014 in Reno, Nevada to conduct aerospace research, development, test, training, and evaluation services. a Veteran Owned Business, established in 2014 in Reno, Nevada to conduct aerospace research, development, test, training, and evaluation services.