FAA Grants Waiver for Civil Drone Operations at Nevada Test Site

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Test Site (UASTS) a waiver allowing civil (non-public) drone operations at a 1,000 square mile test site area north of Reno, Nevada. This development marks a significant milestone for the UAS industry, enabling efficient and safe testing of new technologies in the state.

Nevada Autonomous and NCAR Open for Business

The waiver, issued under Title 49 of the Code (49 U.S.C.) 44803(c), means that Nevada Autonomous and the Nevada UASTS are now open for business, allowing the UAS industry to test their innovations in a controlled environment. Carlos Cardillo, executive director of corporate partnerships at the University of Nevada, Reno, and director of the Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR), emphasized the importance of this development for the state's UAS sector, according to Nevada Today.

Economic Impact and State Support

The Nevada UASTS, operated by Nevada Autonomous under contract with the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development, has been receiving support from the Knowledge Fund administered by the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED). Tom Burns, executive director for GOED, highlighted Nevada's dedication to innovation and the potential for substantial economic impact within the state.

FAA Grants Waiver for Civil Drone Operations at Nevada Test Site

University's Commitment to Innovation

University President Brian Sandoval, who played a significant role in establishing the Nevada UASTS during his tenure as Governor, emphasized the University's commitment to fostering innovation, economic diversification, and technological advancement in the state. The University of Nevada continues to be a leading partner in the UAS sector, collaborating with industry leaders and federal agencies such as the FAA and .

Expanded Drone Operations and Testing Opportunities

The waiver allows Nevada UAS Test Site customers, under the operational control of Nevada Autonomous, to operate drones up to 300 pounds takeoff weight and altitudes up to 18,000 feet above sea level (MSL) within four adjacent operating areas. This development enables more expansive uncrewed flights, including larger UAS operating beyond visual line of sight () of the remote pilot, as noted by Mark Genung, Nevada UASTS Operator.

The FAA's waiver granting civil UAS operations at the Nevada UAS Test Site represents a significant step forward for the in the state. With the support of the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Governor's Office of Economic Development, Nevada Autonomous and the Nevada UASTS are well-positioned to facilitate cutting-edge research, development, and testing of uncrewed aircraft systems, sensors, and payloads. This development is expected to attract aviation companies to Nevada, taking advantage of the state's unique environment and facilities, ultimately contributing to economic growth and technological advancement in the region.

Photos courtesy of Nevada Today.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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