Sensurion Aerospace receives FAA certification

By Emily Aasand | December 31, 2014

Sensurion Aerospace became the first manufacturer to receive a special airworthiness certificate (SAC) from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration which gives authority to the test range for SAC review and guidance.

“This is a great day for the state of Nevada, the FAA, and Sensurion Aerospace,” said Joe Burns CEO of Sensurion. “This is an important step forward for the unmanned aircraft industry, and for aviation innovation in Nevada. Sensurion Aerospace is proud to have our MAGPIE MP-1 initiate operations here in the Nevada UAS test range, and to be among the first to carry an FAA ‘N number’ registration.”

A test flight of the MAGPIE was completed on December 19, in a ceremony marking the official initiation of Nevada unmanned aircraft system (UAS) test range operations.

The Minnesota-based company created the Magpie which has a 6-foot wingspan, weighs 5.5 pounds and can carry up to five pounds of payload. Sensurion works closely with customers to integrate specialized payloads for a wide variety of unmanned aircraft missions, the company says.

With this certification, Sensurion Aerospace is moving into using the MAGPIE MP-1 (under an FAA issued certificate of authorization) in oil and gas exploration missions, critical infrastructure monitoring, atmospherics and gas sensing and flight training, the company said.

“We look forward to using the Nevada test range extensively in our development of the Magpie and other unmanned aircraft,” said Burns.

“For us, as a company, flying the MAGPIE in Nevada, says something important about the MAGPIE in terms of the maturity of the design and the thoroughness of which we’ve thought through the design,” said Brian Haynes, president of Sensurion Aerospace. “We think it’s a pedigree that says a lot about how we’ve approached the MAGPIE from the beginning and the maturity and the dependability of the design.”

In early June, the FAA announced that the state of Nevada’s UAS test site was ready to conduct research vital to integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. Nevada was the third of six congressionally mandated test sites to become operational. New York, North Dakota, Texas, Alaska and Virginia also have authorization for UAS testing.

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 system.

“We’ve been closely associated with the Nevada test range initiative since before the test range selections were made,” said Haynes. “It has been a natural progression for us to be working with them as one of the participants in the emerging certifications process and as it turned out, we were the first ones across the finish line and we’re very proud to be in that position.”