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Oklahoma lawmakers want FAA briefing on drone test site selection

Members of Oklahoma's delegation want to know why the state missed out on being selected as a test and research site.
by Chris Casteel Modified: January 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm •  Published: January 7, 2014

— Oklahoma lawmakers want the Federal Aviation Administration to explain why an Oklahoma State University center was not selected for drone research and testing.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, has requested a briefing from the FAA, and he is working with other members of the state's congressional delegation on a formal letter to the agency, Inhofe spokeswoman Donelle Harder said Tuesday.

Harder said no date has been set.

The FAA examined 25 proposals from 24 states and announced last week that it had selected applicants in New York, Virginia, Alaska, North Dakota, Texas and Nevada. Some of those chosen will use multiple sites.

“In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk,” the agency said.

“In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its (unmanned aircraft systems) research needs.”

The sites are expected to attract private companies, giving an economic boost to the areas and establishing them as centers of a growing industry.

The Department of Homeland Security last year chose a site in southwest Oklahoma, near Fort Sill, to test its own drone platforms. The Oklahoma Training Center for Unmanned Systems is operated for Oklahoma State University, which has also established a graduate program in unmanned aerial systems.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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