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Nevada Test Site Questions

This piece was sent in by a sUAS News reader after they saw the Legal Interpretation I requested dated 9/21/18. I will say that the Interpretation and requests for other information I am after has resulted in emails asking me who I believe is colouring outside of the lines. I’m not sure who is colouring outside of the lines per se.

However, Nevada is purportedly the master of the one-day lease and $15k Node COA and that they also used to fly a Polish aircraft under the Test Site COA. I do not believe those two assertions if they are correct would be within the guidelines or spirit of the creation of Test Centers.

What I do find curious is the lack of action on the part of the Test Centers and the FAA. A few things I have noticed are issues with the FOIA webpage and voicemail system at FAA HQ in Washington DC. The other would be that some of the Test Site agreements and websites got updated at or around the same time. I am sure it must all be coincidental.

The main reason I took on the effort to start asking questions was to start a dialogue, and that aim is beginning to pay off.

Legal Interpretation posted here –


Test Site Questions

NIAS is an active commercial competitor who misrepresents themselves as a public entity and frequently use their Test Site relationship to gain an unfair commercial advantage in violation of federal law.

It appears that the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems falsely conducts civil operations as Public Aircraft Operations, misrepresent themselves as a government-owned corporation, misrepresent themselves as a government agency, misrepresent themselves as the FAA-Designated UAS Test Site and have circumvented §40125(a)(2) and §40125(a)(41) (D) to gain a competitive advantage over civil entities operating under Part 107 while being paid or reimbursed for these services. It is also apparent that they do this with the full support and knowledge of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Based on the Egan interpretation dated 9.21.18,

The UASTS received a briefing from Karen Petronis in April 2018 that explicitly detailed these issues:

  • You cannot violate the statute, you only fail to qualify
  • When you fail to qualify, you are a civil aircraft
  • If you are a civil aircraft, you are subject to all of the civil requirements for the aircraft, the qualifications of the pilot and everything else that comes with the civil operating authority for your aircraft.
  • Civil operations are subject to all civil penalties applicable to each of the 14 CFR regulations you violate, for each flight.

Publicly posted data disappeared from the internet in August 2018. The references listed are deep links, and no longer accessible from the Nevada GOED website.

Falsely conduct civil operations as Public Aircraft Operations

Fail the test: Not a political subdivision of the State government (Nv SoS Business ID NV20131369090)

Fail the test (49 USC 40102(a)(41)(D)): An aircraft exclusively leased for at least 90 continuous days by the government of a State or a political subdivision of one of these governments except as provided in 40125(b).

Fail the test (§40125(a)(2)): each operation must have a governmental function (see FAA legal interpretation stating that “not everything a state decides to do qualifies as a governmental function that supports a public aircraft operation.” Godown interpretation dated 9.23.16.)

Fail the test (   ): An aircraft described in subparagraph…(C), or (D) of section 40102(1)(41) does not qualify as a public aircraft under such section when the aircraft is used for commercial purposes or to carry an individual other than a crewmember or a qualified non-crewmember. (see link) or (here for payments from Amazon and Uber)

Misrepresent themselves as a government-owned corporation

Fail the test: A government corporation is a legal entity that undertakes commercial activities on behalf of an owner government. NIAS is not owned by the State government (Nv SoS Business ID NV20131369090)

Misrepresent themselves as a government agency

Fail the test: Not a political subdivision of the State government (Nv SoS Business ID NV20131369090)

Fail the test: Only private entity on the Nevada Department of Safety Registration (here)

Not governmental function

Fail the test (§40125(a)(2)): each operation must have a governmental function (see FAA legal interpretation stating that “not everything a state decides to do qualifies as a governmental function that supports a public aircraft operation.” Godown interpretation dated 9.23.16.). Multiple reports (here) describe non-governmental flights in Nevada and elsewhere.

Fail the test (§40125(a)(2)): If the government function is aeronautical research, it must be about the aircraft functionally and the results must belong to the state, not a private entity. NIAS is a private entity.

Misrepresent themselves as the FAA-Designated UAS Test Site (The State of Nevada is the FAA Designee)

In previous documents, they clearly delineated the difference between the FAA-Designated Test and NIAS. Now, that distinction appears to be lost.






































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