Oklahoma says the US Federal Aviation Administration’s decision not to pick it as a test site for unmanned air vehicles has actually worked out well, claiming that a lack of guidance from the regulator is stifling operations in the selected states.

Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Technology, says the state remains a test site for Department of Homeland Security UAV research, putting it ahead of the six FAA evaluation areas which were revealed in December 2013.

“This puts us in a really good leadership position,” McKeever says. “We’re still competing in this in the sense that every state is competing in this area.

“The test sites are struggling somewhat in not receiving guidance from the FAA on what they should be doing.”

He says that Oklahoma does not “just want to be another state doing this” but to assume a position at the forefront of UAV integration research.

With agriculture a central industry for the state, using UAVs to support farming is a key opportunity, he says. In addition, Oklahoma is examining how it can contribute unmanned systems for use in the oil and gas sector, alongside utility and power line surveillance.

“We are not creating a new industry for this – it will support existing industries,” he says.

Oklahoma is also part of an international consortium of test sites that includes partners in Spain, the UK, France, Canada and the US, with others in South Africa, the Netherlands, and Denmark interested in joining, McKeever adds.

Acknowledging that the US is behind other countries in how it is implementing regulations to allow for UAVs to be flown in national airspace, McKeever says that it is important for it to learn from international partners that are adapting the technology more rapidly.

Source: Flight Daily News