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K-State Salina selected to test certification standards for drones

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, at 10:33 a.m.

Kansas State University in Salina has been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to test certification standards for unmanned aircraft systems, the university said Monday.

K-State Salina will validate industry standards for small unmanned aircraft systems — systems that typically weigh 55 pounds or less.

K-State will use its own unmanned aircraft systems using the standards set by ASTM International to apply for airworthiness certification, the university said.

The university will work closely with the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University throughout the project, it said.

The project is of national importance, said Kurt Barnhart, K-State Salina professor and head of the department of aviation and executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center.

“This could well be the first small UAS to obtain an FAA airworthiness certificate for routine operations in our national airspace system here in the lower 48,” Barnhart said in a statement.

The airworthiness certificate would likely be a restricted certificate similar to that held by an agricultural aircraft restricting operations above certin locations, such as over a populated area or at night, he said.

“The potential here is truly exciting for K-State,” Barnhart said.

Successful certification of a small unmanned aircrft system would be a significant step toward the commercial use of unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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