With growing opportunities for camera-carrying drones in precision agriculture, high tech farmers have found a friend in Rep. Mike Turner, R- Dayton.
Turner was joined by 17 others including House Speaker John Boehner, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman in sending a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressing "our strong support for the selection of the Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center & Test Complex to be selected as one of the six UAS Test Sites required by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-95)."
In the letter Turner noted that "the Ohio/Indiana proposal fully meets the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) requirements to ensure the safe and responsible operation of UASs in the national airspace system. This effort will be carried out in close proximity to a unique and powerful team of FAA partners already conducting research and development work for UAS integration, including the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center, and the Naval Surface War Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane).
"These facilities and their extensive contractor base hold key technologies needed for the integration of UAS into the national airspace, including sense and avoid technology at AFRL, secure command, control and communication technology at NASA Glenn Research Center, and intelligence and information technology at NSWC Crane. The decision to locate significant UAS research and development in proximity to these test facilities represents a new and efficient aerospace national model."
Turner also noted the potential economic impact such action could have for the area. "…the expansion of a UAS industry in Ohio and Indiana will contribute to significant economic development and job creation not only in our states but the entire Midwest region. Through deliberate cultivation of industry and research partners, and planned investment in early commercialization, we are confident that major UAS industrial growth can be achieved through our selection as an FAA Test Site. With key research and development activities associated with a test site taking place in the region, we expect to attract the rest of the supply chain, including manufacturing and assembly. Because of the large aerospace manufacturing sector already present in Ohio and Indiana, the selection of our proposal stands to provide high job gains in the region. While the greatest impact will be in the Midwest, this growth will also stimulate a national competitiveness in the UAS aerospace industry. The United States can be the leader as these technologies emerge, and Ohio and Indiana want to lead the way."
Turner concluded the existing center will "significantly enhance the FAA's ability to create the policies needed to meet the diverse national interests associated with these aircraft in a safe and timely manner."