Drone Cargo Supply College of Alaska

New Hangar for ACUASI to be Built in Nenana, Alaska

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

The Nenana Municipal Airport in Alaska is set to become the site of a new 4,800-square-foot hangar for the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI).

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The University of Alaska Board of Regents has approved $3.3 million for the hangar, which will serve as a base for drone cargo delivery test flights between Fairbanks and Nenana. The hangar will offer full-time space for drone storage and maintenance and testing of equipment.

ACUASI, part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, has been utilizing the airport for test flights and hopes for the city to become a part of an Interior drone testing hub. Currently, the airport does not have any available hangars. The new hangar’s construction is expected to start prior to June 30th, and to finish by early fall. UAF will lease land from the city.

“Having a hangar at Nenana will greatly expand our testing ability and increase our efficiency,” said ACUASI Deputy Director Nick Adkins. “We thank the Board of Regents for their speedy approval of the project and the governor and legislature for providing the funding.”

The project will be paid for with federal COVID relief funds. The Alaska Legislature approved Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s request to designate $10 million of the state’s share of those funds to ACUASI.

“We look forward to a long-term relationship with the community of Nenana,” Adkins said. “The city’s airport is easily accessible and is in a good location for testing cargo deliveries to areas outside the community.”

One of seven FAA-designated UAS test sites, UAF has flight test areas across the country. ACUASI is a national leader in unmanned aircraft systems innovation and research, as well as a leader in the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.

Last February, the FAA granted a regulatory waiver to the UAF unmanned aircraft systems test site. The waiver assigns responsibility to ACUASI in assessing the airworthiness of a test site user’s unmanned aircraft and procedures.

ACUASI has a range of unmanned aircraft, in addition to ground control stations, antennae, generators and accessories. It additionally owns unmanned aircraft system payloads, including detect-and-avoid systems (ground-based and airborne), anti-GPS jamming systems, electro-optical/infrared cameras, lidar systems, methane detectors, aerosol samplers and more. The center has a hangar at the East Ramp of Fairbanks International Airport. Its largest aircraft include the 280 pound Sentry, with a wingspan of nearly 13 feet and capacity for enough foul for 6 hours of flight, and the 299 pound SeaHunter, which has two engines, a 16-foot wingspan, and carries enough fuel to fly for 10 hours.

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.

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