Northern Plains UAS Test Site Successfully Completes FAA’s UTM Pilot Program

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Last month, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and its partners hosted members of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an event to highlight the successes of its participation in the UAS Traffic Management Pilot Program.

Demonstration Day was held on July 10, 2019 as an opportunity to exhibit the solutions that have been devised and tested throughout the program. Attendees included Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford, representatives from the offices of Senator John Hoeven, Senator Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Department of Commerce, and officials from the FAA and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.

Participation in the FAA UTM Pilot Program was awarded to three FAA UAS test sites, including the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. The FAA is working with NASA to operationalize the UTM concept to further integrate UAS (drones) into the National Airspace System (NAS) safely and effectively. The Northern Plains UAS Test Site worked with partners to test out a number of use cases, or hypothetical UAS traffic scenarios, and to develop technology, tools, and processes to address the challenges posed by having multiple UAS in airspace within a close proximity.

These use cases included situations like media event streaming, traffic monitoring, emergency response, agricultural operations, environmental studies, and various uses by hobbyists. One of the primary objectives tested involved communicating the need to clear the airspace for emergency response vehicles through submission of a UAS volume reservation (UVR). Other objectives of the testing included how quickly UAS operators can clear the airspace of a UVR or re-plan their mission to not directly affect the UVR. Data from local and regional sensors were able to provide the team with airspace surveillance for awareness of the proximity of other aircraft to support situational awareness and collision avoidance.

“The Northern Plains UAS Test Site had a great group of partners during these tests. Everything went smoothly and we were able to successfully meet all the goals and objectives laid out for this project,” said Chris Theisen, director of research and development for the Norther Plains UAS Test Site.

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