Press Release

NASA Invites Media to Watch FAA Test Sites Fly 24 Drones Testing Air Traffic Management Research Platform

By SpaceRef Editor
April 19, 2016
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Media are invited to watch up to 24 unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly called drones, remotely fly during the largest test yet of NASA’s UAS traffic management (UTM) research platform. The drones will fly simultaneously at six Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS test sites located around the country.

Media viewing the test from the UTM observation room at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, will be able to watch on a 24-foot display. Participating UAS operators at the six sites will enter their planned flight operations and the UTM research platform will check for conflicts, accept or reject the flight plans and notify the users.

This test boasts several firsts:
· First multi-site test of NASA’s UTM research platform.
· First coordinated test across all six FAA test sites.
· Most simultaneous, live UAS flights under the UTM research platform.
· First UTM demonstration with live flights and simulated flights in the same scenario.
· First demonstration of several independent UTM research client implementations.
· First live use of NASA-developed UTM displays and apps at each test site.

The flights are scheduled for April 19, 2016, with back up dates on April 20 and 21. Since UAS are susceptible to winds, NASA Ames engineers checked weather reports on Friday, April 15, and determined that on Tuesday, April 19, five of the six FAA test sites will have appropriate weather conditions. The flight window is 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. PDT. They will likely fly no earlier than 8 a.m. PDT. Once Ames gives the go-ahead, each FAA test site will begin flight operations and interactions with the UTM research platform flying up to four drones at each location. The minimum success criteria is 16 drones. Engineers at Ames will monitor the flights remotely using UTM.

The purpose of this test is for operators outside NASA from all six FAA test sites to interact with the UTM research platform at geographically diverse locations, using various aircraft and different software clients to test rural, within line-of-sight UAS operations so that NASA, in collaboration with the FAA, can obtain information to further refine and develop the research. The six FAA test sites will fly UAS in the following areas: Fairbanks, Alaska; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Reno, Nevada; Rome, New York; Blacksburg, Virginia; Bushwood, Maryland; and if weather permits, Corpus Christi, Texas.

Members of the news media interested in attending should contact Sharon Lozano at [email protected] by 5 p.m. PDT, Monday, April 18. To participate in person, media must be U.S. citizens or have a green card. Media may also request interviews and resources after the tests.

For more information about NASA aeronautics, visit:

For more information about NASA’s Ames Research Center, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.