PrecisionHawk, developers of the Lancaster UAV platform for use in agriculture were granted a Certificate of Authorization on Thursday and will the first civilian drone to begin test flights at the Griffiss Airfield in Rome, New York.
Research teams out of Cornell University will be using the Lancaster Mark III to study the agricultural applications of aerial remote sensing technology.
“The approval of this particular COA represents a very strategic and exciting step forward by the FAA,” said PrecisionHawk spokesperson Lia Reich. “By allowing the users, in this case the research teams at Cornell, to forgo the time and financial resources it requires to obtain a private pilot’s license, our UAV platform will be available for data collection at the team’s operational convenience, which is exactly the use-case we created it for.”
The Griffiss test site is now the fifth (of six) test site to become operational as per the FAA’s mandate to integrate drones into the national airspace.
The site’s specific missions include detection of insects, weeds, diseases, crop characteristics, crop biomass and background soil characteristics in geospatially-referenced farm fields. Flights be conducted below 400 feet, and last up to one hour. Once things are up and running, the Griffiss team will also manage unmanned agricultural research flights from Joint Base Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
In addition to testing hardware and software for agricultural purposes, the flights will also provide valuable information regarding the coexistence of unmanned systems and manned, commercial aircraft as well as the development of UAV evaluation processes and sense and avoid capabilities.
“The data the Griffiss team plans to acquire and share will help the FAA in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested Northeast airspace,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
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