FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Creates Opportunity in Central Oregon

On Monday, December 30, 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration announced its selection of six operators of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) research and test sites: Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. This selection comes after a rigorous 10 month process involving 25 proposals from 24 states. These research and test sites are intended to facilitate the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System, meaning they hope to develop UAS technologies that can fly safely in the same airspace as commercial planes. These UAS technologies have the potential for hundreds of civil applications, such as wildfire or timber stand monitoring, wind turbine inspection, or weather data collection. Each of these test sites contain multiple test site ranges—the actual location for the research and test flights. The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon is included as a test site range in the Alaska test site and is the only Native American tribe to be included in any test site. Their inclusion in the Alaska designation has the potential to create meaningful economic opportunity for the Central Oregon region.