The agency announced the test-site solicitation late Thursday, exactly one year after President Obama signed into law the 2012 FAA reauthorization act. In that legislation, Congress directed the FAA to establish the test site program within six months of the law’s enactment to conduct research into integrating UAS in the national airspace system.
In selecting the six test sites, the FAA said it will evaluate proposals on criteria including geographic and climatic diversity, location of ground infrastructure, population density and air traffic density. The agency said applicants have 80 days to submit their proposals.
“Today’s announcement by the FAA is an important milestone on the path toward unlocking the potential of unmanned aircraft and creating thousands of American jobs,” Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said on Thursday. “States across the country have been eager to receive this FAA designation because they recognize the incredible economic and job creation potential it would bring with it.”