Idaho Unmanned Aircraft Systems

UAS expertise, advanced infrastructure put the flyover state on the map for fast-growing industry  

Idaho Pursues Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center for Excellence Designation from FAA


Known for its agriculture and diverse landscapes, Idaho’s natural attributes and technical expertise position the state for leadership in the dynamic Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry.  Led by the Idaho Department of Commerce, Idaho is pursuing designation by the FAA as a test site and Center for Excellence for UAS to help integrate unmanned aircraft into the nation’s airspace.   

Idaho’s UAS team, made up of state government, business partners and research institutions, will be in attendance at the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's (AUVSI) exhibition in Washington, D.C. August 12 – 15 (Booth #1627).   

Setting Idaho apart as a UAS site of choice is a combination of industry-diverse field research, vast airspace and terrain, forward-thinking privacy provisions and being home to the second largest non-Department of Defense test site in the United States.   

“Idaho is the perfect place for the committee to land when they decide where the next UAS site for research and testing will be located,” said Idaho Commerce Director Jeffrey Sayer.  “Our state has an unmatched blend of resources, infrastructure and desire to advance this emerging industry.  From the Idaho National Laboratory’s role at the forefront of UAS research and development to our aeronautics legacy to widespread public and private support for the industry, there is no state better prepared to meet the needs of this industry.”   

Idaho already has the primary and supporting assets needed to serve as a FAA UAS test site.  In addition to the INL’s 900 square mile COA is a paved UAS runway complete with firefighting and medical assets, a dozen test pilots with a combined total of more than 7,800 hours of unmanned flight hours and facilities that include machine shops, electronic labs, office space, storage areas, medical dispensary and dining services.   

Earlier this year, Idaho became the second state in the nation to adopt privacy provisions for UAS. The legal framework created by the legislation enables Idaho to accelerate and advance development and testing of technologies and protocols that will allow for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system.   

Among the business partners represented on the Idaho UAS team:   

ADAVSO: Pioneers in the UAS industry, Advanced Aviation Solutions, LLC offers entire-system expertise—aircraft, ground control station, operator, links, and airspace. The company has 20,000-plus hours employing aircraft in-flight instruction, global air cargo, search and rescue, air-to-air combat, long-range surveillance, and test and evaluation. 

Blair Farms: Robert Blair uses a UAV on his 1,500-acre family farm to scout and analyze his crops for disease, water usage and bugs.  As a result, Blair has saved 25% in water costs, uses fewer resources, is a better land steward, and is better positioned to meeting the growing global food need. 

Cygnus, Inc.: Cygnus manufactures precision sheet metal and machined parts for military and commercial aircraft. Cygnus supplies multiple military unmanned aircraft programs, including Global Hawk, Fire Scout, and UCAS. 

Empire Airlines: Operating out of 15 states, Idaho-based Empire provides aviation services, including cargo and passenger airline operations for large international customers and heavy maintenance, primarily on large turboprops. Empire performs a wide range of government contract work and offers consulting, primarily related to airline startups, equipment changes and STC. 

Idaho Power: Idaho Power uses low-cost UAS to monitor salmon populations on Idaho rivers, resulting in dramatic cost savings over manned helicopter flights, as well as increased safety, especially over expansive wilderness and difficult terrain. 

Omnitech Robotics: ORI develops and manufactures robotic controls, equipment, components, unmanned ground vehicle systems, and broad-based automation. The company’s experience in unmanned vehicles centers on converting ground vehicles to remote control, tele-operated control, or semi-autonomous control.   

For more information about Idaho’s UAS expertise, visit www.virtualpressoffice.com/kit/k8rb or attend a conversation with the Idaho UAS Team on Wednesday, August 14 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the AUVSI Press Center, Salon B. For the state of Idaho or the Department of Commerce, visit www.commerce.idaho.gov, or call  208.334.2470.  

News Categories: Business, Technology