U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, today applauded the announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the joint application by the states of New Jersey and Virginia has been selected as one of the six national test sites for integrating commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace. LoBiondo, working closely with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, led the New Jersey’s Congressional efforts to secure the designation.
“Today’s announcement is a GREAT way to kick off the New Year, promising significant economic opportunities in the aviation field particularly for South Jersey,” lauded LoBiondo, chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee. “A years-long effort has been spent on putting forth the strongest application - including forming a solid working partnership with Virginia - to ensure the FAA recognized our existing assets for this project. I appreciate Governor Christie’s unwavering support throughout the process as well as the efforts of my Congressional colleagues and those working on the ground in South Jersey on our proposal.”
The states’ joint application was put forth by Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) and Rutgers University with support from the Governors of New Jersey and Virginia. The other 5 test sites selected by the FAA are in: Alaska-Hawaii-Oregon; Nevada; North Dakota; Texas; and New York. UAS test sites will operate until February 2017 with the first site being operational within 180 days of today’s announcement. There is no federal funding from the FAA for any test site.
The William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center will be the lead facilitator of data collected from each of the six test sites, working to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace as mandated by the 2012 FAA Authorization Act – a provision LoBiondo advocated for inclusion during the bill’s drafting and debate. While each test site will have specific regulations to protect the privacy of surrounding residents and businesses, Congress continues to evaluate further legislative options to address civil liberty concerns.
“The outstanding partnership between New Jersey and Virginia, between Governors Christie and McDonnell, between Rutgers and Virginia Tech and various state and private entities made for a winning result. Our cooperative efforts, in conjunction with the FAA Tech Center in Egg Harbor Township, will continue as our test site takes off and commercial unmanned aircraft systems open up new economic opportunities for our states,” concluded LoBiondo.
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