The three mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia and their leading research universities have signed an agreement stating they will work collaboratively towards supporting the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) research and testing efforts aimed at integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace system.
The states’ proposals were submitted to the FAA by the University System of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, representing the combined resources of New Jersey and Virginia, with Rutgers University and Virginia Tech participating in the effort.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 enacted by Congress calls for establishing six unmanned aircraft system research and testing sites in the U.S. While a vast percentage of the work conducted to date has been accomplished under defense programs, future work on the integration of UAS into the national airspace will be implemented through a combination of federal, state and local government resources, academic institutions, and industry and aviation assets. As a result, an $89 billion commercial industry is expected to flourish over the next ten years.
The final proposals were submitted to the FAA in May, with decisions on siting the flight centers expected to be made before December 31, 2013.