US: The Federal Aviation Administration announced today that it has granted North Dakota Department of Commerce a Certificate of Authorisation (COA) to begin conducting unmanned aircraft research as a part of the agency’s UAS test site program. The FAA touted that the formal standup of the test site is more than two and a half months ahead of the deadline set for the program by Congress.
The North Dakota team plans to start testing the Draganflyer X4ES small UAS at its Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site during the week of 5 May. The site’s initial purpose is to show that UAS can check soil quality and the status of crops to assist North Dakota State University/Extension Service precision agriculture research studies.
The North Dakota COA is effective for two years. The state spent more than $14 million to establish the site and it has $5 million of funding, with an additional $4 million that was contingent on the site getting selected.