Huntsville International Airport selected to host FAA drone research project

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Near misses between manned aircraft and drones have been in the news more frequently lately.

The FAA is working on research into reducing these issues, and Huntsville will be hosting part of it.

Tuesday, Huntsville International Airport announced the airport will be one of four airports nationwide selected to host the FAA research project.

And Cooper Jacob with Port of Huntsville Public Relations said it was a community effort to bring the research project to the Rocket City; UAH was a no-brainer as a partner with their multi-year history of conducting drone research.

“[UAH] has done research in the past on their own, and they’ve just always been a great community partner with u,s and they’ve always been readily available,” she explained. “So when we found out about this opportunity, we reached out them, and since they have been such a great asset to us, we knew that they would be a great asset to the FAA.”

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Jacob and the airport’s application to the FAA cited UAH, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Gov. Kay Ivey, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong, and even Senator Richard Shelby as supporters of the airport and the project.

Huntsville International was scored based on multiple factors in addition to the community and governmental support:

  • Geographical diversity: The airport cited the Cumberland Plateau, Highland Ridge, and the Alabama Valley and Ridge, in addition to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, as meeting the requirements for different types of terrain; and said all were within close vicinity to the airport.
  • High-Tech Research into drones and other areas: In addition to UAH, Alabama A&M University, Cummings Research Park, the Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, the Redstone Test Center, the Space and Missile Defense Battle Lab, and the FBI Technical Engineering Design and Analysis Center were all cited as high-tech research hubs in north Alabama.
  • FAA Infrastructure: In addition to a dedicated Port of Huntsville GIS team, UAH can assist with mapping and positioning needs for optimum test sites.
  • Large Test Area: Huntsville International Airport owns 8,000 acres of property, which fits into the requirements for the wide area necessitated by the FAA project. In addition, the City of Huntsville has also offered to allow drone testing over the Downtown area.
  • History of Drone Operations inside the airspace: UAH has flown drone’s inside the Huntsville International airspace multiple times, each time, receiving approval from the airport for operations. Of note, public safety responded to an unauthorized flight in the airspace last March near runway 36R,

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Source: Bobby Stilwell

Photo credit: Press


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