U.S.

May 10, 2013

Mississippi submits proposal for drone test site

Mississippi is bidding for one of six sites nationwide to test unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones.

The state submitted its proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration May 6, according to a Mississippi Development Authority.

State officials say the FAA should choose Mississippi because it has three manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as a flight laboratory at Mississippi State University. Congress has directed the FAA to use test sites to determine how to integrate current air traffic with unmanned vehicles. Today, such drones can only be flown with special permission, and can’t be used for commercial purposes.

“There’s a lot of potential out there for commercial use of unmanned aerial systems,” said Manning McPhillips, the chief administrative officer of the MDA. “This is a huge growth area in the aerospace industry.”

FAA spokesman Les Dorr said 50 sites in 37 states had indicated they would submit proposals. The FAA won’t finance the test, Dorr said, meaning bidders have to find some way to pay. McPhillips said Mississippi can use most of its existing assets at no cost, including airspace at Camp Shelby, Stennis Space Center and Gulf of Mexico test ranges controlled by the Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport.

“The beauty of this is there is no upfront cost to the state,” McPhillips said.

Mississippi State University would collect data from tests and conduct research, said David Shaw, the university’s vice president for research and development. He said research projects could include finding ways to improve communication between ground controllers and aircraft, encrypting control signals to prevent outsiders from hijacking a drone, and studies of how to improve the airworthiness of drones.

MDA officials said Camp Shelby’s more than 10 years of experience in safely operating drones is a big plus for Mississippi’s plan. They also cite the airspace over the Gulf of Mexico and MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory.

The idea is that the state would lay out the welcome mat for researchers who need time and space to fly their craft. Right now, air time in the United States is severely limited, said MDA’s Christine Pate.

“The fact that you can’t test is stymieing this industry that’s getting ready to explode,” she said.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates that the unmanned aircraft industry would create more than 70,000 jobs in the first three years after the FAA allows normal commercial operations.

Today, Mississippi has about 250 jobs in the sector, including Northrop Grumman’s assembly facility in Moss Point, as well as Stark Aerospace and Aurora Flight Sciences at Golden Triangle Regional Airport near Columbus. Another 250 jobs are promised in the next two years, McPhillips said. But officials hope testing would allow them to multiply that figure.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Navy photograph

NAWCWD manned for unmanned systems

Navy photograph A rail launch is performed during Integrator unmanned aerial vehicle testing at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division China Lake, Calif. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division scientists, engineers, techn...
 
 
NASA photograph by Ken Ulbrich

NASA employees go ‘above and beyond’

Courtesy photograph NASA Chief Scientist Albion Bowers, Christopher Miller and Nelson Brown receive the Exception Engineering Achievement Medal at Armstrong Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The prestigious award ...
 
 
Photograph by Tom Reynolds

Engineers, test pilots enjoy Mojave tradition

Photograph by Tom Reynolds Engineer and pilot students who recently graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School from Patuxent River, Md., and the USAF Test Pilot school at Edwards AFB kept with a 17 year old tradition, enjo...
 

 
nasa-global-hawk

Global Hawk 872 return marks 100th NASA flight

  NASA Global Hawk No. 872 is pictured on the ramp after landing at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Va., at sunrise following its 10th and final science flight Sept. 28–29 in the agency’s 2014 Hurricane and S...
 
 

Northrop Grumman hand held precision targeting device completes successful developmental test

A new hand held targeting system developed by Northrop Grumman that will enable soldiers to engage targets with precision munitions while providing digital connectivity to related military units has successfully completed developmental testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The evaluation of the company’s Hand Held Precision Targeting Device, or HHPTD, was conducted...
 
 
Photograph by Linda KC Reynolds

Educating future workers

Photograph by Linda KC Reynolds Antelope Valley College physics professor Christos Valiotis and assistant headmaster at the Palmdale Aerospace Academy, Matthew Winheim, speak at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade Luncheon. The ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>