Five Representatives join growing list of support of Inyokern-led effort for a UAV test site designation.
In a show of support, five members of Congress from San Diego and Imperial Counties signed a letter on Thursday supporting an Inyokern-led effort to secure a unmanned aircraft systems test site designation from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The information began with a release from a tweet from a California state senator.
“Congrats to @CaliforniaUAS! (The) Entire San Diego/Imperial County House delegation signed a support letter for official FAA UAS/UAV test site,” Sen. Jean Fuller (R — Bakersfield) said via Twitter on Thursday.
California Unmanned Systems Portal confirmed Fuller’s statement Thursday night with the support letter itself.
Representatives Darrell Issa, Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, Susan Davis and Duncan Hunter announced their support of Cal UAS and its partners in Inyokern in a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and James Williams, the FAA manager for UAS flight standards.
“San Diego is a center of aerospace technology, and the region meets and/or exceeds the criteria put forth by the FAA for a UAS/UAV test site,” the joint letter states.
The five federal lawmakers stated that the area that Cal UAS Portal has mapped out as its proposed range of operations “spans a diverse geography and climate conditions, which is vital to compiling a robust body of data to guide decisions on how to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).” That area includes desert and mountain terrain to maritime environment close to San Diego.
Eileen Shibley, leader of the Cal UAS Portal team, called the support welcome news.
“The Cal UAS Team is so excited about this showing of support from the San Diego and Imperial Counties Representatives,” Shibley said by email Thursday night. “It’s a full showing of their support of Cal UAS and is signed by every one of their Congressional Representatives.”
Shibley said that in addition to the Congressional support, Cal UAS has also received the support of the San Diego Lindbergh Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The AUVSI is the world’s largest organization advocating and advancing the commercial use of unmanned systems.
The San Diego-area lawmakers are the latest to throw their support behind Cal UAS and its partners. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R — Bakersfield) has long backed Inyokern, as have Fuller and Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R — Bakersfield).
Cal UAS Portal is only one in 25 potential teams in 24 states vying for one of six test site designations that the FAA will name by December.
The test sites is an initial step in the FAA’s directive to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace by the end of 2015, a task handed down to them by Congress in 2012. A test site designation would reduce the onerous requirements the FAA places on operating unmanned systems.