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Sources: Josh Brungardt, 785-826-7170, jjb1128@k-state.edu;
and Kurt Barnhart, 785-826-2972, kurtb@k-state.edu
Photo available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-6415.
News release prepared by: Natalie Blair, 785-826-2642, nblair@k-state.edu

Friday, Jan. 22, 2010

FAA ISSUES K-STATE AT SALINA'S AVIATION PROGRAM SECOND CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORIZATION FOR UNMANNED FLIGHT

SALINA -- The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Certificate of Authorization to Kansas State University at Salina to fly the PowerCat, an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by a private company, over Crisis City.

It is the second authorization certificate the FAA has issued to K-State. Crisis City is an emergency response training area that is part of the Great Plains Joint Regional Training Center located adjacent to the National Guard's Smoky Hill Weapons Range near Salina.

The authorization is the result of the combined efforts of K-State at Salina and the Salina Airport Authority. The ability to fly over Crisis City opens the door to more extensive training in search-and-rescue operations through use of sites that include a mock disaster-struck city, crashed transportation vehicles and a collapsed building.

The PowerCat is a fully autonomous, gas-driven small unmanned-aerial-system helicopter that can be equipped for a number of different payloads.

An FAA Certificate of Authorization is a waiver that allows limited unmanned aerial vehicle flight in the national air space as the agency develops regulatory airworthiness, collision avoidance standards and certification requirements for unmanned flight.

K-State at Salina's Unmanned Aerial Systems Program office is home to the Unmanned Aerial Systems Technology Evaluation Center that evaluates existing unmanned aerial systems' technology and platforms for their suitability in disaster response scenarios and trains operators/maintainers. The program office also houses a full surface mount technology lab devoted to unmanned aerial vehicle avionics and payload miniaturization.

The office is operated by K-State at Salina's Applied Aviation Research Center. The center's charter is to advance aerospace technology through the application of research capabilities in propulsion, airframe, avionics and aviation training.

The Unmanned Aerial Systems Program office also collaborates with military organizations and the private sector to focus on developing unmanned flight in the nation's airspace and training unmanned system pilots and operators. K-State at Salina also establishes criteria for unmanned aerial system flight operations, including activity at the National Guard's nearby Smoky Hill Weapons Range and eventually at the Herington unmanned aerial system flight facility. The program office establishes policies and procedures to enable both military and civilian organizations to fly and test at the area facilities.