Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
11:55 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Why Didn't FAA Choose Washington For Drone Testing?

Low population density and testing over water.

Those may be the reasons why the Federal Aviation Administration skipped over Washington state when selecting proposals for drone testing sites.

Alex Pietsch, who directs the Governor's Office of Aerospace in Washington, said Washington's proposal designated seven test sites to work out the bugs in drone aircraft in different scenarios.

"There was a high desert, an over mountain terrain, the Yakima Firing Range so you could do military applications there,” Pietsch said. “We also had an over-water range, in partnership with Grays Harbor County."

The proposed program would have been based at the former Larson Air Force Base at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake.

On Monday, the FAA announced that it had chosen proposals from Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia from 25 bids received.

The Alaska proposal also included Oregon and Hawaii. Pietch said he believes that plan was selected over one from Washington because fewer people live in the areas where the drones would fly.

"There's wide open spaces over both land and water that there are no populations around,” he said.“The concentration of the effort is in Alaska."

Pietsch said members of the Washington consortium will connect with officials from the FAA to learn exactly why Washington's proposal was not selected.