Press release

Ohio UAS Center, Air Force Research Laboratory to Test Groundbreaking Aviation Technology

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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Lt. Governor Jon Husted, and Major General
William Cooley, Commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at
Wright Patterson Air Force Base, announced today that the Ohio Unmanned
Aircraft Systems Center and AFRL will begin testing groundbreaking
aviation technology at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

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(Photo: Business Wire)

(Photo: Business Wire)

This month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed that new
technology developed in collaboration between AFRL and the State of Ohio
– called SkyVision – safely, accurately, and effectively allows unmanned
aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”) to detect and avoid other aircraft
while in flight. Simply put, SkyVision can be described as an air
traffic control system for drones.

The validation of this aviation technology led the FAA to grant AFRL a
certificate of authorization to test defense-related drone technology
without reliance on a visual observer or chase aircraft. Typically,
drones can only fly within the uninterrupted line of sight of the person
operating the UAS, but this special waiver allows AFRL and the Ohio UAS
Center, which is part of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s
DriveOhio Initiative, to use SkyVision to test drones beyond the visual
line of sight within a 200 square-mile parcel of unrestricted airspace
near the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

“As our country steps more and more into the unmanned age of flight,
this technology is on the forefront of the aviation frontier, making
Ohio a critical national asset for the research and development of UAS
technology,” said Governor DeWine. “This also opens the door for
commercial companies to work with Ohio, AFRL, and the FAA to test their
own UAS-related technology using our SkyVision detection system. This is
a major step in revolutionizing the transportation industry, with Ohio
leading the way in aerospace, defense, and aviation innovation.”

“This is an important development in the progression of unmanned
aircraft,” said Major General William Cooley, Commander of AFRL at
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. “This waiver provides the latitude to
test beyond-line-of-sight keeping AFRL on the leading edge of
world-class research and accelerates the delivery of technology that
makes a difference to the warfighter.”

“By enabling our lower-altitude airspace for advanced modes of
transportation, we’ll be able to facilitate new opportunities around
advanced autonomous aircraft research and development,” said Lt.
Governor Husted. “This will bring investment to Ohio and solidifies
Ohio’s position as a world-recognized leader in aviation technology.”

Ohio’s SkyVision detection system could potentially be used by the state
to develop and test UAS technology to assist citizens in the event of a
natural disaster or to significantly enhance the capability of search
and rescue teams to find missing persons in time-critical situations.
Commercial companies, such as those looking to use drones to survey
damaged infrastructure or hoping to launch drone commerce operations,
will also now have incentive to move to Ohio to test their own UAS

VyrtX, a company based out of Dayton, is among the first companies that
has committed to expand into Springfield to work with AFRL and the Ohio
UAS Center. VyrtX is currently developing technology for the potential
transport of organ donations between hospitals for transplant surgeries.

UAS test flights will take place at heights ranging from 1,000 feet
above ground to 10,000 feet mean sea level. Air traffic control experts
from the Ohio UAS Center will operate SkyVision during each flight. The
SkyVision detection system is located within a mobile unit so that it
can be flexibly placed in optimum positions for each flight.

“Today’s announcement comes after years of hard work and collaboration
among an incredible group of partners,” said Jeff Hoagland, President
and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. “AFRL and Ohio had a bold
vision to bring UAS into the national airspace for true
beyond-visual-line-of-sight flight. The work done here will shape the
industry for years to come.”

The State of Ohio and AFRL both invested a combined $5 million for the
research and development of SkyVision.

Supported by the Ohio Department of Transportation, DriveOhio works to
ensure Ohio’s regulatory environment and public policies are conducive
to the development of the infrastructure and technologies needed for
smart mobility.

AFRL and a delegation of Ohio UAS industry experts will showcase the
SkyVision system at AUVSI Xponential in Chicago April 30 to May 2 in
booth 4226.