The FAA today announced a groundbreaking partnership with the Choctaw Nation to find out how drones can best move cargo – including packages – at lower altitudes.
The agency’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC) signed a three-year contract with the Oklahoma-based Native American Tribe that allows the center to study human factors, supply chain management, and air traffic control related to drone technology.
“The parties will use virtually simulated urban environments for their research,” said an FAA statement. “A goal of [agreement] is designed to encourage interest in science, engineering, engineering, and math programs for students seeking potential careers in the aerospace industry. “
“The FAA and the Choctaw Nation share an interest in security,” said Michelle Coppedge, director of the MMAC. “Our goal is to advance the development and integration of UAS into an already complex national airspace system.”
“The MMAC plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of aviation in our country. We are pleased to establish formal relationships between our organizations to work together to support the development and safe integration of new aviation technologies into our national airspace system,” said James L Grimsley , Executive Director, Advanced Technology Initiatives for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
According to the FAA, the Choctaw Nation is the only tribal government selected by the U.S. Transportation Department to participate in the pilot program to integrate unmanned aerial systems – one of nine active pilot sites selected to operate advanced drones in collaboration with the FAA and industry Operations.
A first for the Choctaw Nation
The Choctaw Nation is the first tribal government to be recognized by the FAA as a public aircraft operator and the only major participant to work with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in acoustic testing of agricultural drones, remote infrastructure inspections, and public safety is working.
The FAA noted:
“More than 6,300 employees, contractors and students work at the FAA Aviation Center, which is located on the west side of Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. The center touches every aspect of the country’s airspace by providing training, supply chain management, medical / educational research on human factors, and the national registration database of all U.S. registered aircraft and pilots. It also provides financial management and acquisition services to a variety of federal agencies. “
FAA and drones
The announcement comes just days after the FAA announced it would select five American airports to evaluate technology to identify and mitigate potential security risks posed by rogue drones.
In February, the agency announced an open application deadline for the role of test administrators for the federal agency’s Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST).
“The FAA will appoint qualified third parties who will administer the test and make it available to all recreational drone pilots,” the agency said in a press release. “Companies involved with recreational pilots such as educational institutions, manufacturers, and air carriers are encouraged to apply.”
Jason is a longtime DroneLife employee with an avid interest in all things technical. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector. Police, fire and search and rescue.
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