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Greater Dayton doesn't get 'drone' test site

The FAA has announced its six national test sites that will develop unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and they do not include  Greater Dayton. The sites will conduct critical research into the certification and operational requirements necessary to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace over the next several years.

The winners are:

  • University of Alaska
  • State of Nevada
  • New York's Griffiss International Airport
  • North Dakota Department of Commerce
  • Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

The Federal Aviation Administration said it considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. Administrator Michael Huerta would not give details why Dayton was not picked, saying only the 19 applicants not selected will get a debriefing if they want one. "We received many, many great proposals. But in picking six, what we have here is a slate that provides a great platform to conduct research all across the country."
Dayton's case

For years, the Dayton region has been positioning itself as a possible national UAS hub. Wright Patterson Air Force researchers have been developing UAS and then testing them on the base and at the Wilmington Air Park. The Dayton Development Coalition has been working to attract UAS manufacturers and suppliers to the region.

In September, Sinclair Community College announced it received a Certificate of Authorization (CoA) to fly UAS at the Wilmington Air Park. It signed a letter of intent with Altavian to serve as the UAS manufacturer's National Training Partner. It also signed a teaming agreement with Woolpert, a geospatial mapping company. Sinclair spent $1.4 million in UAS training and getting the government's approval to fly. The community college says it is the first community college in Ohio to get a CoA and has the first UAS simulation lab for commercial applications. Sinclair estimates the UAS industry could be worth $94 billion by 2020.


Senator Rob Portman is disappointed the Ohio/Indiana UAS center didn't get picked.

“I remain committed to advancing Ohio’s leadership role in aerospace and unmanned systems. The Ohio/Indiana UAS Center will move forward with its plans to serve the needs of federal, state, local, and private entities as they continue research and development of UAS. Keeping Ohio’s aerospace industry strong and competitive is critical not only to our state’s economy, but to the national security of the United States.”

Sinclair Community College:

“The best is yet to come for the Dayton Region and UAS. The Dayton Region has positioned itself as a strong competitor in the areas of UAS related education and training regardless of today’s decision. Sinclair and our partners will continue to collaborate and advance a strong UAS industry in the Dayton Region.”

Dayton's Mayor:

“We are very disappointed with the FAA’s decision to not include the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex,“ Mayor Gary Leitzell said. “I certainly think Dayton is well-suited for this opportunity, and it was our hope to officially continue at the forefront of unmanned aircraft systems. However, Daytonians will continue to innovate and commercialize new technologies.”

Gov. Kasich's spokesman Rob Nichols:

“Ohio will continue to be a national leader in this new industry. Our new Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center, in coordination with our world-class labs at Wright-Patt and NASA Glenn and our partnership with Indiana, only strengthens our position. While we think Ohio certainly has the assets to be deserving of the FAA designation, our efforts have already resulted in valuable developments that will help us continue to shape the future of this exciting new industry and further the economic comeback of our state and region."