Texas UAS Summit opens with FAA comments

By Luke Geiver | March 30, 2016

Kelvin Solco, regional administrator for the Southwest region of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, addressed a large crowd awaiting the start of the first-ever Texas UAS Summit & Expo this week in Austin, Texas. To explain the FAA’s success in integrating small unmanned aircraft into the national air space in the last year, Solco referenced a popular topic familiar with many from the region: football.

As the crowd stood in front of the sold-out expo hall featuring exhibitors ranging from UAS manufacturers to flight standards developers to service providers, Solco described the FAA’s recent work at the Super Bowl in San Francisco. According to Solco, the FAA instituted a no fly zone for drones surrounding the stadium during the game. “I’m happy to report we didn’t have a single drone-related incident,” he said. The Super Bowl offers an example of the progress and success the FAA has experienced working with both hobbyist and commercial UAS users. In June or July, the FAA will unveil its small UAS rule, a major step in advancing the commercial UAS industry, Solco said.

In addition to Solco, the opening ceremonies at the Texas UAS Summit included Flavius Killibrew, president of the Texas A&M Corpus-Christi, a school that has been investing time and resources to develop and enhance its UAS-related work and role in the industry. Jerry Hendrix, executive director of the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation, also took the stage to welcome attendees. Hendrix and his team are stationed out of Corpus Christi. Al Davis, deputy director for Texas A&M’s engineering extension service (TEEX) also participated in the opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting. TEEX has become a leader in training and certification for emergency responders already using or looking to implement UAVs into day-to-day operations. During the morning of the first day, TEEX held a UAS training session that was expected to include roughly 20 attendees. The four-hour training session ended with roughly 50 in attendance.

During the three-day event, NASA, Texas state agencies, commercial end-users and others will be presenting at the Austin Renaissance. The inaugural event has attracted presenters and attendees from across the country to learn about the role of Texas and the greater southwestern gulf region in the expansion of the UAS industry.

To learn more about the event, visit, www.texasuassummit.com