WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded two contracts totaling nearly $2.3 million to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) and Appareo Systems LLC to conduct unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research in collaboration with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in North Dakota.
In his announcement about the grants, Senator John Hoeven, R-ND, a member of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, said the awards were made available under a program that he established and worked to fund, supporting partnerships between companies and the nation’s UAS test sites to demonstrate or validate technologies essential to the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace.
“We’ve built a premiere hub for all things UAS here in North Dakota,” said Senator Hoeven. “It makes sense for the FAA to utilize the expertise of businesses in our state, like GA-ASI and Appareo, along with our test site to develop and demonstrate the technologies needed to safely fly unmanned aircraft in our national airspace. That’s exactly why we created this UAS research program, which uses federal funds to leverage private investment and create these kinds of partnerships.”
GA-ASI has received nearly $1.5 million in contract funding to research Detect and Avoid (DAA) capabilities. This technology will enable unmanned aircraft to detect other aircraft flying nearby and maintain safe separation. GA-ASI will be conducting this research at Grand Sky, the nation’s first unmanned aviation business park, located at the Grand Forks Air Force Base.
“This is an opportunity to showcase the investment GA-ASI continues to make into Detect and Avoid technology, and, in a broader sense, the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “We look forward to continuing to grow our relationship with the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and working more projects in North Dakota.”
Appareo received $802,599 in contract funding to research radio functionality at different altitudes and in different environments for the purposes of command and control (C2) and live-streaming high-resolution video. This effort, which will also evaluate the use of LTE cellular networks for unmanned aircraft applications, will help ensure communication between UAS and the ground stations responsible for controlling the aircrafts.
“We’re pleased to partner with the FAA and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in this program, supporting the effort to ensure the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace,” said Brenda Wyland, VP of Government & Defense of Appareo. “Programs like this, designed to leverage companies’ expertise such as our depth of experience developing cutting-edge technology, are essential to advance the industry.”