December 6, 2021
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The Federal Aviation Administration is now collaborating with the Choctaw Nation to study how Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones can best transport cargo – including parcels – at lower altitudes.

[Above photo via the Choctaw Nation.]

The FAA said its Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center signed a three-year memorandum of understanding or MOU with the Choctaw Nation, located in eastern Oklahoma to study human factors, supply chain management, and air traffic control issues related to low-altitude cargo-carrying drones.

Representatives of the FAA and Choctaw Nation officially signing an MOU on joint drone testing.

Both said they are using “virtual simulated urban environments” for this research while simultaneously seeking to “promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs” for students through this MOU as well.

“The FAA and the Choctaw Nation share an interest in safety,” noted Michelle Coppedge, MMAC’s director, in a statement. “Our goal is to advance the development and integration of UAS into what is already a complex National Airspace System.”

”The MMAC plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of aviation operations in our nation, and we are excited to establish formal ties between our organizations to jointly support the development and safe integration of emerging aviation technologies into our national airspace system,” added James Grimsley, executive director of advanced technology initiatives with the Choctaw Nation.

Photo via the FAA

The Choctaw Nation is also the only tribal government the U. S. Department of Transportation selected to participate in its Unmanned Aerial System Integration Pilot Program or UAS IPP that wrapped up in October 2020.

The FAA added that the Choctaw Nation is also the first tribal government it recognized as a “Public Aircraft Operator” and the only lead participant to work with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center on acoustics testing for UAS used in agriculture, remote infrastructure inspections, public safety and other areas.

In another drone-related development, the FAA recently issued a Federal Register notice delaying the effective implementation date of its “Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft” final rulemaking until April 21.

As a result, the FAA said it is also delaying the compliance date for the production requirements for remote identification broadcast modules as well.

editor@aashto.org

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