Local News

Jun 20, 2014 2:01 PM

FAA Approves Unmanned Flight Operations Testing at Texas A&M Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHRISTI - The Federal Aviation Administration has given the green light for Texas A&M University Corpus Christi to start using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to collect data that will be used to create safety rules nationwide.

The university was selected as one of six UAS test sites in the country. Researchers will conduct flights from 11 ranges in the Texas that offer access to a wide range of geography and climate.

The university is using the information collected from flights to keep track of changes in coastal habitats and the shoreline. But the data will also be used by the FAA to decide how to regulate unmanned commercial and civilian aircraft.

The FAA has authorized research in six primary areas:
· safe operations and data gathering in authorized airspace;
· establish protocols for unpiloted aircraft certification, sometimes referred to as airworthiness;
· develop and test command and control link technologies in varying conditions;
· develop human factors solutions for UAS control station layout and certification;
· create sense and avoid research that allows unpiloted aircraft to see and take measures to avoid other obstacles on the ground and in the air; and
· investigate UAS surface and air volume environmental impacts.

Texas A&M University Corpus Christi has flown unmanned vehicles since 2011.

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