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Huntsville International Airport chosen by FAA as unmanned systems test site

Huntsville International Airport is one of five airports in the United States selected by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to host an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Detection and Mitigation Research Program Test Site.

Airport officials submitted a proposal to the FAA in fall 2020 that advanced the airport as the operator host for an FAA testing and evaluation site. The purpose of the program is to evaluate technologies and systems that could detect and mitigate potential safety risks posed by unmanned aircraft.

The airport’s proposal offered a committed community and a concentration of high-tech resources focused on UAS research by academia and industry alike, according to the FAA. Redstone Arsenal’s capabilities and UAS research being conducted at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) were cited in the announcement to address detection and mitigation of military and civilian unmanned aerial systems.

“Huntsville International Airport is honored to have been selected,” said Rick Tucker, Huntsville International Airport CEO. “We applaud this decision by the FAA and look forward to hosting a test site at our airport. We are grateful to our partner UAH, and to industry partners like COLSA, QuantiTech and Dynetics.”

Tucker also praised city, county and state leadership for their support and vital roles in this proposal.

“We especially want to express our appreciation to Sen. Richard Shelby for his efforts regarding Huntsville’s selection and for his continued support of Huntsville International Airport as we both work to move Alabama forward,” he said.

UAH vice president for Research and Economic Development Dr. Bob Lindquist stated, “This project will allow UAH to leverage its Unmanned Aircraft Systems expertise and engage with the FAA and aviation organizations with superior UAS engineering, research, integration and test capability from all across the United States.”

The five airports selected were:

• Atlantic City International Airport in Atlantic City, New Jersey
• Syracuse Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, New York
• Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio
• Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, Alabama
• Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington

Ray Garner is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News.