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Northern Plains UAS Test Site Aids NASA in UAS Airspace Test Event
Post Date: Apr 19 2016

Earlier today, the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Test Site successfully conducted close-proximity UAS flight tests to help evaluate NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) research platform.

Tests were conducted in partnership with the University of North Dakota (UND) and UAS company partners Botlink (www.botlink.com), Altavian (www.altavian.com) and Sensurion (www.sensurion.com).  

The goal of the test was to have at least four aircraft from each of the nation’s six FAA designated test sites flying simultaneously to test traffic management and safety of UAS flights in multiple locations in low-altitude airspace. Other FAA selected UAS test sites are located in Alaska, Nevada, Texas, Virginia and New York.

“This is the first test using the capabilities of all six test sites,” said Northern Plains UAS Test Site Executive Director Robert Becklund. “Data gathered from this type of testing is the critical information needed to ensure safe management of UAS in the national airspace to help move commercialization of the industry forward.”

The four aircraft chosen for testing in North Dakota were UND’s ScanEagle, Botlink’s ER-1, Altavian’s Nova F6500, and Sensurion’s Magpie. NASA orchestrated all of the tests from the UTM Flight Laboratory at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. North Dakota test flights took place in western Grand Forks County.

“We are very pleased with our success in this milestone exercise,” said Doug Olsen, Principle Investigator for both Northern Plains UAS Test Site and UND.  “The tests today were very productive and the results will provide all parties valuable insights into how well NASA’s UTM research platform can help safely manage flights of unmanned aircraft, which is important for the future of UAS commercial flying operations.”

The Northern Plains UAS Test Site, led by the North Dakota Department of Commerce and supported by UND, is one of six national UAS test sites designated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. Multiple test sites participated in today’s NASA research flights.

The UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences will have test event video available by 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. Instructions to access that footage can be found at: ftp://transfer.aero.und.ed.        
For more information about NASA’s UTM project, see http://utm.arc.nasa.gov/. For more information about the flights in Grand Forks, contact Doug Olsen, Northern Plains UAS Test Site/University of North Dakota, 701-777-3543, olsen@aero.und.edu.

North Dakota has invested more than $34 million to establish a national UAS test site, to establish the Grand Sky UAS Business Park and to advance North Dakota’s position as a hub for the nation’s growing UAS industry.

For additional information contact Brian Opp at the North Dakota Department of Commerce at (701) 328-5300 or by email at blopp@nd.gov
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