Military drone research in Springfield

Local News

SPRINGFIELD (WDTN)–The US Air Force is set to fly drones from the Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to fly drones to test a new technology known as SkyVision. Skyvision’s goal is to allow drones to safetly detect and avoid other aircraft while in flight.

Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted made the annoucement along with the commander of the AFRL, Major General William Cooley.

Gov. Mike DeWine said,”SkyVision will open doors to drone use that can be truly revolutionary.”

The validation of this aviation technology led the FAA to grant the AFRL a certificate of authorization to test defense-related drone technology without reliance on a visual observer or chase aircraft. Typically, drones can only fly within the uninterrupted line of sight of the person operating the UAS, but this special waiver allows AFRL and the Ohio UAS Center, which is part of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s DriveOhio Initiative, to use SkyVision to test drones beyond the visual line of sight within a 200 square-mile parcel of unrestricted airspace near the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

Testers hope Ohio’s SkyVision system could someday be used by the state to develop technology to help during natural disasters- or with search and rescue.

UAS test flights will take place at heights ranging from 1,000 feet above ground to 10,000 feet mean sea level. Air traffic control experts from the Ohio UAS Center will operate SkyVision during each flight. The SkyVision detection system is located within a mobile unit so that it can be flexibly placed in optimum positions for each flight.

The State of Ohio and AFRL both invested a combined $5 million for the research and development of SkyVision.

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