Friday May 31, 2013 0 commentsBOULDER - An application organized by the University of Colorado Boulder has been submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration seeking to have Colorado selected as one of six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites being developed across the U.S., CU-Boulder announced.
The Colorado application is one of 50 proposals from 37 states for designated UAS test sites. UAS can range in size from hobby planes to aircraft with wingspans as wide as commercial jets and can be used for tasks ranging from forest fire support and search-and-rescue missions to oil-and-gas operations and military operations.
UAS are also used increasingly in science projects, and CU-Boulder has one of the most comprehensive UAS science programs in the nation, said Eric Frew, CU-Boulder aerospace engineering sciences associate professor.
CU's UAS projects have included monitoring seal populations in the Arctic, charting sea ice changes near Greenland, tornado research and measuring holes in Antarctic sea ice.
"We may have more experience flying science missions around the world with UAS than any other research group in the world," Frew said.
The final six site selections by the FAA are expected in December, Frew said.
The Colorado proposal was made by about 100 team members representing 10 economic development agencies, five industry associations, two state agencies and dozens of private companies.
In addition to Colorado's aerospace industry - first in the nation for private employment with about 25,000 workers - the state also hosts three aerospace-related Air Force bases engaged in aeronautics, aviation and space research.
Brian Argrow, CU-Boulder aerospace engineering sciences professor, said Colorado's application also has the advantage of a diverse range of geography, from plains to extremely mountainous areas.
Another advantage, Argrow noted, is CU-Boulder's graduate level aerospace engineering sciences program, ranked second in the nation by the National Research Council, and arm of the National Academy of Sciences.