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April 24, 2014

NAAA urges ag pilots experiencing UAV near misses to report such incidents to their local FSDO and to NAAA to assist in our efforts to promote safe integration of UAVs.

The FAA announced on April 21 at the University of North Dakota that the agency was issuing the first two, two-year long certificates of authorization (COAs) to the North Dakota Department of Commerce, effectively opening the first of the six UAV test sites the agency approved in December.
The UAV to be used under the first COA will be the DraganflyerX4ES at the Carrington, N.D., test location. The UAVs are expected to start flying the week of May 5. The second COA was issued for a test site in Devils Lake, N.D., which is expected to start flying in the summer.

The main goal of the Carrington site’s initial operations is to show that UAVs can check soil quality and the status of crops in support of North Dakota State University/Extension Service precision agriculture research studies. While supporting the precision agriculture project, both test sites will also collect safety-related operational data needed for UAS airspace integration.

NAAA continues to push for safe integration of UAVs into low-level airspace where manned ag aircraft are operating, and these first two COAs mark a step in that direction; however, there is more that must be done. NAAA is pushing for all UAVs to be equipped with ADS-B technology and strobe lighting to ensure these low-level obstacles are clearly visible to aerial applicators. The FAA has informed NAAA that safety data indicating near misses with UAVs will be needed to support a UAV ADS-B and strobe mandate. As such, NAAA urges ag aviators experiencing UAV near misses to report such incidences to their local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and to NAAA to assist in our efforts to promote the safe integration of UAVs. With your help we can show the FAA that more needs to be done to ensure safe integration.

In addition, NAAA urges all members to report illegal UAV operations to their local FSDOs and to NAAA. Unless operating under a COA, commercial UAV flights are still prohibited by the FAA until more safety data can be collected.

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