FAA issues RFP for unmanned aircraft test sites

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a request for proposals Feb. 14 for where it might establish six unmanned aircraft system (UAS) test sites in the continental United States.

The RFP is part of the process to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System by 2015 as required by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which was signed into law the same day. Test site operators must be non-federal public entities, states the FedBizOpps notice.

Applicants ultimately selected by the FAA administrator will enter into individual Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) with the FAA, the notice said. Each OTA will set out the terms and conditions under which the respective entity will operate the UAS test site.

To address privacy concerns in regard to integrating UAS into national airspace system that were raised in advance of the RFP release, the FAA plans to continue reaching out to the public and interested parties for their perspectives, the notice said. Test site operators will be required to establish a privacy policy that is public, and builds confidence and trust, the notice said.

The integration of UASs into the national airspace system will help the work of search and rescue teams, disaster response efforts and scientific research, among other things, Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), said in response to the RFP issuance.

“States across the country have been eager to receive this FAA designation because they recognize the incredible economic and job creation potential it would bring with it,"  Toscano said. "While we would prefer the FAA not limit the number of test sites, we applaud the agency for finally taking this important step, which will help create jobs and ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in aviation innovation.”

Responses are due by May 6.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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