On Monday morning, the FAA granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce team a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to begin working with a Draganflyer X4ES at the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. The project has two goals, both of which are essential for bringing drones into the commercial market.
The team’s first objective will be to demonstrate that UAS is an unmatched tool when it comes to checking soil quality, crop status, and gathering other agricultural data in support of North Dakota State University/Extension Service precision agriculture research studies.
At the same time, the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site will use the Draganflyer flights to gather safety-related operational data necessary for the FAA’s UAS airspace integration plan.
“These data will lay the groundwork for reducing risks and ensuring continued safe operations of UAS,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, in the press release. “We believe the test site programs will be extremely valuable to integrating unmanned aircraft and fostering America’s leadership in advancing this technology.”
The opening of the North Dakota site is the first of six U.S. test sites previously mandated by the FAA to gather the data necessary for regulating drones in the national airspace. Monday’s COA is valid through 2016 and the North Dakota Department of Commerce team is scheduled to begin test flights as early as May 5th.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com