The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg is one of just six drone test sites across the country. Historically, test sites would be required to notify the FAA of missions and file the corresponding paperwork. New test sites, like Blacksburg, will no longer have to wait for FAA approval in order to conduct tests as long as the UAV is less than 55 pounds and doesn’t exceed 200 feet during daylight hours. Higher altitude test flights can be completed, but FAA approval will be required.
Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration waived the authorization process for the agency’s six nationwide drone test sites requiring clearance before moving forward with research exercises at or below 200 feet.
One of those test sites is Virginia Tech, where the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership — a part of Greene’s institute — has spearheaded drone research. The Virginia Tech site is partnered with the University of Maryland and Rutgers University in New Jersey.