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Lawmakers Pledge Support for FAA Center of Excellence

May 20, 2015

Recently, members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives pledged to continue their support for a newly-designated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) that will research and develop technologies and policies for the use of unmanned aerial systems, or drones, in the United States.

At a news conference on May 14th, lawmakers praised the FAA selection of Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE), a consortium of universities headed by Mississippi State University (MSU), to lead the center. ASSURE is tasked with identifying issues critical to the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the nation's airspace and engaging in research and policy development on the growing use of unmanned aerial systems.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, MSU President Mark Keenum and consortium members joined U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Hoeven (R-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and U.S. Representatives Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Gregg Harper (R-MS) at the event to discuss the next steps and goals for the COE UAS.

The directive to the FAA to establish the national center has been included in congressional appropriations bills since FY2012, with Congress appropriating $5.0 million to support a five-year agreement with the COE UAS. Federal funding will be matched by ASSURE team members.

The FAA expects the COE to begin research in 2015 and be fully operational in 2016 in its exploration of evolving new technological developments regarding unmanned aircraft and their uses, including detect-and-avoid technology, low-altitude operations safety, privacy safeguards and other areas. Research will also involve the deployment of UAS for emergency response, biofuel and clean fuel technologies, law enforcement activities, and agricultural and environmental monitoring.

To view the full article, please see: Mississippi State University News