from sUAS News
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center (LSUASC) will conduct a robust series of flight missions the week of June 23, part of its preparation for becoming fully operational as one of only six federal test sites.
Researchers will run missions each day through Thursday with the University’s RS-16 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
“The Lone Star UAS Center will now send official data to the FAA,” said Dr. Luis Cifuentes, the University’s Vice President for Research, Commercialization and Outreach. “We have range users waiting in line for the LSUASC to become operational so they can get on the ranges to test and evaluate innovative research and commercial UAS applications. These operations will generate data that will help integrate UAS into the national air space. We plan to conduct such tests and evaluations before the end of the summer.”
In the six months since the test site designation from the Federal Aviation Administration in December, the Lone Star Center has been preparing to receive private companies and other organizations that want to test and research aircraft, software or other possible uses for unmanned aircraft, commonly referred to as drones.
University officials expect to receive approval for full test site operations for this test range this summer. This would open the door for the more than 30 aerospace companies that have expressed interest in using the test range. Another two ranges, in the Beeville and Port Mansfield areas, are also before the FAA for approval.
The upcoming missions will address several of the FAA research goals designed to safely integrate unpiloted aircraft into the national airspace by 2015, including:
system safety and data gathering as it relates to marine environments;
best practices for use of a chase plane that can more efficiently match speed and follow the UAV; and
continue refining process of ensuring air traffic control communications between UAV, ground control station and Mission Control Center in Corpus Christi.
During these missions, the UAV will launch from a mobile operations center, fly east out of sight of ground observers, and will be monitored by a piloted aircraft as it flies over Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico. Regulations require that the drone remain under visual contact at all times.
“The data we collect this mission will help the FAA determine best practices for integrating unpiloted aircraft into the national airspace,” said Dr. David Bridges, Director of the University’s UAS Program. “A study of our radio link procedures this mission will tell us what works best in this area, given its terrain, climate and transmission situations from the UAV, to the ground control station and back to Corpus Christi with the Mission Control Center.
“This is also the first time we’ll be out in the heat of the South Texas summer, so we’ll be able to determine if conditions, which can include an increase of scorpions, snakes and mosquitoes, affect the flight and crew.”
The mission will also gather video, ultraviolet and thermal image data from the onboard multi-spectral camera for University researchers monitoring coastal habitats and shoreline changes.
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