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Navy: Drone testing on Kauai not a certainty

January 10, 2014
The Associated Press

LIHUE (AP) - Drone testing at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai is not a certainty even though the base is exploring the possibility with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, U.S. Navy officials said.

Base spokesman Stefan Alford said that there's no final commitment from the base.

"There's not an agreement in place," Alford said. "They are exploring the possibility of (the facility) because of our existing infrastructure, lots of airspace with established safeguards and no privacy concern impacts on the community."

The flights would be over water, Alford said.

The university was selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to manage one of six test site operations across the country. The operators will research the requirements necessary to safely integrate drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, into U.S. airspace.

The plan managed by the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration at the University of Alaska Fairbanks includes proposed test sites in Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon. Leaders in Alaska praise the testing as good for the university and good for economic activity in the state.

Ro Bailey, director of the Pan-Pacific Unmanned Aerial System Test Range Complex, said that the Kauai base could be an ideal location to test drones because aircraft can enter controlled military airspace with little risk or disruption to civil aviation.

Bailey said that possible testing is being explored on the island of Niihau. Bailey said that Niihau Ranch approached the complex about the possibility two years ago.

 
 
 

 

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