The FAA today announced its decision for locations that will serve as UAS test sites. Unfortunately, Arizona was not one of the six sites. But the state has laid the groundwork to ensure we’re poised to be a leader in the emerging civilian UAS industry.
We’re already a leader in UAS testing at our military installations (Ft. Huachuca just welcomed a new regiment of unmanned aircraft), we’ve got the F-35 headed to Luke AFB soon, we offer world class commercial airports, a business environment that encourages manufacturing and start-ups, education leaders like Embry Riddle and great flying weather. Going after the FAA application just underscored Arizona’s well-deserved reputation for cutting edge aerospace research, testing, training and manufacturing.
I am especially encouraged by the statewide collaboration that characterized our pursuit of the FAA designation. The worlds of business, higher education and government came together to tout Arizona’s aerospace and defense assets that will support UAS.
This is only the beginning. Our state’s vast, open airspaces where safe testing can occur, diverse geography, year-round climate for testing, a strong aerospace and defense sector, numerous runways and airstrips, and statewide support for the expansion of the UAS industry aren’t going anywhere; this is an industry that won’t be limited to just a few areas of the country.
Decisions made by government agencies with nationwide implications are complicated and are often impacted by all sorts of external factors. We might never get the full picture of why some applicants were chosen and others were not. But nothing about today’s decision changes the fact that Arizona offers, and will continue to offer, a great environment for the future of the aerospace industry.