An office on the eastern edge of Springfield, Ohio, will serve as the base of operations for two states’ joint effort to become a test site for unmanned aerial systems.
The Springfield News Sun reports the Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aerial Systems Center and Test Complex will be housed in leased office space at the Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park along U.S. 40 in a building owned by Advanced Virtual Engine Test Cell, better known as Avetec.
The not-for-profit Avetec already has modeling and simulation capabilities. The organization strives to reduce the cost and time it might take the military to develop and test jet engines by doing it virtually.
With the presence of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Dayton-Springfield region has long been viewed as the state’s bastion of UAS research and development. The availability of restricted airspace in neighboring Indiana makes for a “wonderfully complementary partnership,” says Joe Zeis, executive vice president and chief strategic officer for the Dayton Development Coalition.
Drones will be launched and recovered on their way to and from restricted airspace from Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Unmanned aircraft also will be flown from the Wilmington Air Park.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, which will manage the complex, picked the space from among 15 possible sites, 12 of which were located in Montgomery and Greene counties.
The state controlling board Monday approved ODOT’s two-year lease at a total cost of $70,000 that will run from July 1 until June 30, 2015.
It’s hoped the creation of the test complex will bolster the two-state effort to win one of six UAS test sites being created nationally later this year by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA will use the sites to gather safety and privacy data needed before drones are allowed into manned airspace in 2015.
Two dozen applicants representing 23 states are in the running for the six test sites, says Joe Zeis, executive vice president and chief strategic officer for the Dayton Development Coalition.
Even if the FAA doesn’t pick Ohio and Indiana, drone testing will be done in the region, says Rob Nichols, press secretary for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, because of a NASA challenge grant for sense-and-avoid technology.
An industry report in March predicted that unmanned aircraft will create more than 2,700 new Ohio jobs by 2025 and generate $2.1 billion in development. That same report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International stated the selection of the test sites will help determine where jobs flow.