Unmanned aircraft test site hoped for in Box Elder

Planes that fly without a human in the cockpit might be the next big thing for the state’s economy.

The Federal Aviation Administration is considering Utah, particularly the Promontory area in Box Elder County, as a location for one of six test sites it will establish in the coming year to develop regulatory standards to foster technology and operational procedures for its development of Unmanned Aerial Systems.

A UAS is comprised of an unmanned aircraft, all associated support equipment, a control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment necessary to operate it.

Developers say the UAS can be used in a variety of settings, from agriculture and forestry to TV and film production.

Marshall Wright, aerospace and defense cluster director for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said the technology is relatively new, which means all its uses have not yet been discovered.

There is potential for UAS to commercially transport goods as well as deliver resources to people in hard-to-reach locations.

GOED Communications Director Michael Sullivan said the state partnered with Weber State University as well as Utah State University, Utah Valley University, the University of Utah and Brigham Young University to enter the UAS market.

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