Virginia Governor to facilitate research to develop unmanned systems technology for aviation
Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe has announced initiatives to help develop unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology in order to reinforce the economy in the US state.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently granted a certificate of authorisation (COA) to Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership to conduct research flights up to 7,000ft in altitude in an area of nearly 5,000m² in central Virginia.
Following the approval, Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership conducted its first flight under the COA.
The newly approved flight corridor expects to expedite testing and development to further safe commercial integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.
Researchers are expected to examine the safety and feasibility of flights beyond the visual line of sight.
In order to advance that research, $950,000 for equipment for the new test range was brought in by Governor McAuliffe, and adopted by this year’s General Assembly.
The instrumentation will add transponder equipment, helping UAS to transmit their position to ground-based receivers, radars for the detection of aircraft not carrying transponders, and display technology to integrate that data, giving users an awareness of other aircraft in the area.
Governor McAuliffe said: “Unmanned systems technology is the next generation of research and data analytics and our investment into this technology gives Virginian companies the edge in competing in the global market.
“With these groundbreaking initiatives, Virginia’s researchers and engineers can expand the technical capabilities in the aviation and energy fields and grow these critical sectors of the New Virginia Economy.”
A multi-industry research consortium is also planning to use Virginia’s resources for unmanned systems research sector.
Organised through Pipeline Research Council International, US and American Aerospace Technologies, the consortium that also includes oil and natural gas, electric power and telecommunications companies will develop and explore sensors, analytics and operational concepts that can enhance the efficiency and safety of aerial inspections of critical infrastructures.
Concerned officials stated that the testing infrastructure for UAS is expected to attract more firms interested in developing beyond-visual-line-of-sight capabilities, which are necessary for unmanned aircraft systems to realise their full commercial potential.
Published on Aerospace-Technology.com Monday, May. 23, 2016