FAA sets deadline for UAS Center of Excellence applications

By Patrick C. Miller | August 21, 2014

The FAA has set a Sept. 15 deadline for accredited institutions of higher education—along with their partners and affiliates—to apply for a new Center of Excellence (COE) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

The FAA earlier this month released its final solicitation for the UAS COE, which will be tasked with identifying current and future issues critical to safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace.

The COE will study technical issues that include detect-and-avoid technology, control and communications, low-altitude operations safety, compatibility with air traffic control operations and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crewmembers.

The university teams may include industry and other affiliates expected to support, conduct joint research efforts, and serve on the COE team.

The FAA said it intends to support this center over the next 10 years with at least $500,000 per year in funding. The universities will be required to match federal grants from nonfederal sources.

The FAA won’t determine how the new COE will interact with six UAS test sites selected last December until after the COE team is in place and develops a detailed research plan.

Similar to the FAA’s university think tank partnerships, its Centers of Excellence focus on bringing the best minds in the nation together to conduct research, to educate and to train, and work with the FAA on solutions for aviation-related challenges.

Congress mandated that the FAA establish the COE under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014.