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Island University named aircraft systems test site
CORPUS CHRISTI -- Texas has been named a test site for unmanned aircraft systems by the Federal Aviation Administration, based on a statewide proposal led by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
The test sites will facilitate testing and research of unmanned aerial systems technologies to provide scientific data on the future integration of these aircraft safely with other air traffic. Congress mandated that the aircraft systems be integrated into the national airspace by 2015. One of the main research goals is finding the safest methods for unmanned planes to sense other aircraft and take measures to avoid collisions.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has been doing unmanned aircraft systems research for about two years, looking at ways to use the aircraft systems for mapping sea grass, detecting oil spills and hotspots in wild fires, monitoring hurricanes, and herd counting for ranchers. The university’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center (LSUASC) proposal was the only one from Texas being considered by the Federal Aviation Administration, and had the backing of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
This historic decision will have huge financial implications for the entire state of Texas, especially South Texas. The Association of Unmanned Vehicles International published an economic impact study in March projecting that once airspace is opened to unmanned aircraft systems, the economic impact would be about $8 billion statewide, and $260 million in South Texas over the next 10 years, creating about 1,200 jobs.
Much of the expected economic benefit would center on the Coastal Bend.
A&M-Corpus Christi is also collaborating with the top engineering, research, and technology experts in the state, including those at the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute and the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
The university will have six months to get the test site fully operational. In preparation for this, LSUASC opened the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Command and Control Center at the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center in October, which will manage the 11 Texas test ranges.
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/lcoTKrq.
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