FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems has seen a steady growth as they are used for an increasing number of missions, both military and civilian. A variety of payloads such as sensors, cameras, radar, communications electronics, electronic warfare, weaponry, and more make more missions possible.
The University of Alaska Fairbank’s Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft System Integration teamed up with U.S. Army Alaska to increase the awareness and practical applications of UAS and to ensure safety procedures were in place. The UAF test site is one of six approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct UAS research.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eric Collier, U.S. Army Alaska Aviation Task Force safety officer, worked hand-in-hand with ACUASI to set standards for UAS operations in the region. Collier assisted in developing policies and procedures for UAF’s unmanned systems program and assisted in safety and standardization of flight operations.
“I think what you’re going to see and why we have a very positive ‘hey, what can we help you with?’ attitude is based on the fact that these guys are about to mark the future for unmanned systems within the national airspace,” said Collier. “The way forward for these test sites is integration not segregation.”
USARAK and UAF plan to share what they learn and information gained while testing UAS in Alaska and abroad.
“It’s not so much an interest that we have in the ACUASI, it’s more of a shared partnership to see everything succeed and go to the next level, because when they develop and get into the national airspace, the leash starts to come off of us as well”
The Department of Energy authorized ACUASI to operate Unmanned Aerial Systems within the geographic region underlying their airspace area. The ACUASI has been providing the Federal Aviation Administration data gathered from missions abroad such as firefighting assistance, ice flow detection, tsunami debris, drift net detection, methane detection and bio-diversity.