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FAA Asks for Public Input on UAS Test Sites


March 8, 2012 – The FAA wants to hear from the general public on the selection process for six unmanned aircraft system (UAS) test sites, which were mandated the National Defense Authorization Act and the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Bill. The agency says data from test sites will help it safely and efficiently integrate UAS into the same airspace where manned airplanes operate.

The FAA specifically seeks input on areas including public versus private management of the sites, research activities and capabilities of the test areas, the requirements for test site operators, and the geographic and climate factors that should influence site selection. Comments are being sought from the UAS user community and the public at large for the next 60 days (from March 7, 2012). The official request for comments, including instructions for filing comments, will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, March 9.

"These test sites will help us ensure that our high safety standards are maintained as the use of these aircraft becomes more widespread," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The FAA said in a news release that UAS will be integrated into the National Airspace System by 2015.

The UAS pilot program mandates the FAA select six test sites to do the following:

  • Safely designate airspace for integrated manned and unmanned flight operations in the national airspace system
  • Develop certification standards and air traffic requirements for unmanned flight operations at test ranges
  • Coordinate with and leverage the resources of NASA and the Department of Defense
  • Address both civil and public unmanned aircraft systems
  • Ensure that the program is coordinated with the Next Generation Air Transportation System
  • Ensure the safety of unmanned aircraft systems and related navigation procedures before they are integrated into the national airspace system


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