Virginia chosen as one of 6 testing sites for drone research

Posted at 3:07 PM, Dec 30, 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced its selections for six testing sites for drone research after a 10-month selection period.

25 applicants from 24 states were considered. Four of the six testing sites will be at specified locations — the University of Alaska, Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, Virginia Tech and Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y. The remaining two accepted proposals came from the State of Nevada and the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.

Here in Virginia, researchers at Virginia Tech will be running the project, but the main testing sites would be here in Hampton Roads, at facilities like NASA Langley and Wallops Island, potentially bringing billions into the local economy.

"In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk," the FAA said in a statement.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta laid out the agency's full plan in a 74-page Roadmap for Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System, released (.PDF) early last month.