University of Maryland UAS test site receives first COA

By Emily Aasand | November 18, 2014

The University of Maryland Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site has received its first certificate of authorization (COA) from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to fly unmanned vehicles in the national airspace.

“This COA gives folks not only in Maryland, but in in this region and even outside our region, a resource to go to in order to fly their systems,” said Scassero. “The whole reason we set up was to help the FAA but to also be a resource for the industry to get airborne.”

This authorization resulted from the first use of UMD’s airworthiness process, the only known university airworthiness process that is modeled after the U.S. Navy’s rigorous standards for ensuring the safety and reliability of its manned and unmanned aircraft, according to the test site.

“This flight authorization is significant because it builds on the existing relationship between the University of Maryland and the Navy, and applies our mutually disciplined research approaches to the cutting edge of civil and commercial unmanned aviation,” said Darryll Pines, dean of the UMD A. James Clark School of Engineering.

The test site will be using the Talon 240, which is designed and manufactured by UAV Solutions Inc. of Jessup, Maryland. The Talon 240 has a 20-foot wingspan and can fly for up to three and a half hours.

“We were looking for a large fixed-wing vehicle that could haul payloads that other people may bring to us to do research on and the Talon 240 had just about everything we needed,” said Scassero. “They’ve been extremely easy to work with and very cooperative with everything we’re trying to do.”

“The FAA stamp of approval is the federal government’s recognition of our airspace integration efforts, which are part of our region’s autonomous research initiative—a key to our economic growth and diversification,” said John Bohanan, Maryland.

The University of Maryland, Virginia Tech and Rutgers University are members of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership consisting of academia, government, industry, economic development agencies, non-profit organizations throughout Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland.