NEVADA: Staring down new standards

By UAS Magazine Staff | October 15, 2014

Nevada’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site was approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration in early June to begin research on integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace.

Nevada was granted a two-year certificate of waiver or authorization (COA) to use an Insitu ScanEagle at the Desert Rock Airport located in Mercury, Nevada. According to the FAA, the ScanEagle will fly at or below 3,000 feet, monitored by a visual observer and mission commander.

Nevada’s research will focus on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The test site will also research  air traffic control procedures and how they might evolve after the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and with NextGen, the FAA’s effort to modernize the national airspace system.

Nevada’s test site has partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno to work on a range of topics from improving navigation and control of autonomous systems to developing applications related to environmental science and land management. The university has partnered with Flirtey, a technology developer that provides real-time delivery using UAS to create a safe UAS delivery technology. It is the first partnership on campus under the University’s Nevada Advanced Autonomous System Innovation Center. The University also added a new minor degree program in UAS in January to help students prepare to enter the Nevada UAS industry.

The test site also has a partnership with the Desert Research Institute, an entity exploring UAS use in civilian government and the private sector. The work is aimed at developing applications such as cloud seeding to fight forest fires.

Other partners of Nevada’s test site include the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the College of Southern Nevada, the Small Business Administration, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, the Boulder City Municipal Airport, and the city of Las Vegas.