The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) Division of Aviation is planning to conduct drone operations at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport (ICT), the state’s largest commercial airport, as one of nine lead participants in the FAA’s small UAS Integration Pilot Program, Kansas director of aviation Bob Brock told AIN yesterday. Airport officials contacted Brock’s agency to look at ways drones could be used in airport operations, he said.
“They approached us about starting a new drone program that could help make their airport more efficient and safer,” Brock explained. “We said we’d be glad to help with that, because it fits perfectly inside the Integration Pilot Program.”
This week, teams from the FAA, KDOT Aviation, and Wichita Airport Authority met to discuss the research project and formulate procedures for drone operations within airport property. Drones could be used to conduct airfield inspections as well as the perimeter fencing of the airport, which serves seven airlines as well as business jet OEMs Textron Aviation and Bombardier. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to be selected for this pilot program, because we can bring all the strength of Kansas aviation to help the FAA create new policy,” Brock added.
Over the next six weeks, KDOT Aviation, the airport, and partners that include Kansas State University and Wichita State University will be working to complete a plan to conduct drone operations at the airport. Following FAA approval, they will begin test flights, Brock said.