As reported by AIN Online Monday, The North Dakota Department of Commerce recently received a COA (Certificate of Airworthiness) to fly the Draganflyer X4-ES UAV at the Northern Plains UAS test range, officially making it the first of six test sites to begin official research testing operations. This 2-year COA will be used to demonstrate the unmanned helicopter’s ability to perform “precision agriculture” monitoring of variants like oil quality and crop status. The authority will conduct a second set of missions this summer over Devil’s Lake. The Grand Forks Sheriff’s will also have access to the aircraft under FAA authorization.
In December, the FAA announced that it had selected universities and other public entities in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia to operate six national UAS test sites, something Congress required in both the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act and National Defense Authorization Act. Several other states will also administer testing through cooperative partnerships with these universities.
According to Air Transport World, the team plans to begin actual flight testing the week of May 5th, 2014.