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Monday, December 30, 2013

FAA Selects Virginia as one of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research and Test Sites

After a rigorous 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country.
In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs.
A brief description of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future UAS use are below:
  • University of Alaska.  The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation.  Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations. 
  • State of Nevada. Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen.  Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.
  • New York’s Griffiss International Airport.  Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.
  • North Dakota Department of Commerce.  North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota’s application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.
  • Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.  Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).  Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.
Across the six applicants, the FAA is confident that the agency’s research goals of System Safety & Data Gathering, Aircraft Certification, Command & Control Link Issues, Control Station Layout & Certification, Ground & Airborne Sense & Avoid, and Environmental Impacts will be met.
Each test site operator will manage the test site in a way that will give access to parties interested in using the site. The FAA’s role is to ensure each operator sets up a safe testing environment and to provide oversight that guarantees each site operates under strict safety standards.
From the start, the FAA recognized it was important to have requirements ensuring that privacy and civil liberties are protected at the test sites. Among other requirements, test site operators must comply with federal, state, and other laws protecting an individual’s right to privacy, have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention, and conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment. 
Under the current law, test site operations will continue until at least February 13, 2017.
For more information go to

Monday, December 16, 2013

2014 International Aviation Art Contest


All artwork for the state competition must be postmarked by Friday, January 17, 2014.

THEME - "Flying Saves Lives"

First and foremost, powered flight began as an adventure – a sport.  In the beginning, flying was a risky business that was not for the faint of heart; injury, or even death, was something that pilots had to consider each and every time they went up.  But over the 20th century, as powered flight became more stable, routine, and safe, it also became less and less the sport of daredevils and more and more a way to transport people and goods rapidly over long distances.  During this time, powered flight also became something else – it became a means of saving people’s lives.

Today,  helicopters fly rural accident victims to far away hospitals; organs are packed in ice and flown, in the nick of time, to save dying patients; pilots use planes and helicopters to fight large fires; and relief agencies transport food and water to starving and thirsty people around the globe.  Flight allows us to see like birds and move faster than the wind, and it has given us the ability to help those who could never be helped before.  Can you think of other ways that “flying saves lives?”  Let us count or perhaps more accurately, illustrate the ways.  Good luck!


Entries in each age group are judged and state winners and runners-up are selected. Winners receive recognition from their state. The top three entries in each age group are forwarded to Washington D.C. to be judged in the national competition.
1st, 2nd and 3rd place national winners are selected from each age group. All national winners receive certificates, ribbons and a framed reproduction of their artwork with the original being forwarded to FAI for the international competition.
Winners of the international competition receive certificates and gold, silver, or bronze medals.

Click here for contest ELIGIBILITY and RULES.
2013 International Aviation Art Contest application.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Liberty University School of Aeronautics to Launch Affiliate Program in Newport News

Spreading its wings in its mission to train pilots and aircraft maintenance workers in the rapidly growing aviation industry, Liberty University School of Aeronautics (SOA) is expanding beyond its Lynchburg Airport Campus this month to Virginia’s Tidewater region.

The first affiliate program of Liberty University School of Aeronautics and Freedom Aviation Flight Training will launch Saturday, Dec. 14, at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport with an open house set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The facility will offer online courses through Liberty University Online (LUO) for students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in aeronautics to supplement flight training provided by instructors hired through Freedom Aviation, the flight operations center and aviation business used by the SOA at Lynchburg Regional Airport.
Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Dave Young, dean of Liberty’s School of Aeronautics said Newport News was selected as the first site for the pilot program primarily because of its location, within 50 miles of eight military bases. The SOA offers a specialization in military aviation as well as commercial/corporate and mission aviation.

“The Newport News Airport administration and the Newport News community have been tremendously supportive of this endeavor and are committed to a ‘win-win’ relationship,” Young said. Young expects the affiliate program to lead to more partnerships with SOA-approved flight schools located at airports across the U.S.

“We plan to partner with the Virginia Department of Aviation to spread this concept across the state and then eventually across the country,” he said. “These affiliations will give students a way to fund not only their flight training, but also their degree.”At the open house, visitors can take discovery flights and simulator rides as well as tours of the 6,000 square feet of office and hangar space that Freedom Aviation is leasing from Newport News/Williamsburg fixed-base operator Atlantic Aviation.

Instructors from SOA’s Aviation Maintenance Technician Program  (AMTP) and its Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) division will be on hand as well as representatives from Liberty’s Office of Military Affairs, LUO, Residential Enrollment, and recruiters from Piedmont and ExpressJet Airlines, among others.
Liberty’s SOA established a hiring agreement with ExpressJet in September of 2012.
Representatives from the Virginia Department of Aviation and aircraft manufacturing companies such as Cessna also will attend the open house along with world-renowned aviation video instructors John and Martha King.

“The invitees include prospective pilots and aviation students, but we also have invited a broad scope of industry personnel to provide a large networking opportunity for individuals and organizations in all aspects of the aviation industry,” said Jenna Campbell, Freedom Aviation’s project manager.
Additionally, through a new partnership with the Denbigh “Magnet” High School Aviation Academy — also based out of Newport News/Williamsburg International — LUSOA is offering prospective aircraft mechanics flight training and college course credit toward their airframe and powerplant license through Liberty Online.

“We have much room for growth and visions of expanding into the public school networks, where we can start an aviation mentorship program early on,” Young said. “This effort is part of a strategic initiative to introduce the possibilities of an aviation career into the minds of young people, initially at the high school level, but expanding even into elementary and middle schools.”

The Liberty University School of Aeronautics has grown from four students to more than 800 in the last 11 years and is currently the largest faith-based university aviation program in the country. The school offers a variety of online and residential programs, including a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in military aviation, missionary aviation, commercial/corporate aviation, and unmanned aerial systems (UAS), as well as flight attendant training. 


Monday, December 9, 2013

2013 Virginia Department of Aviation’s Photo Contest Winners

Drum roll please... Announcing the winners of the 
2013 Virginia Department of Aviation's Photo Contest! 

1-      Alexander Peters
2-      Anna Brown
3-      Steve McCaughey
H.M. Chad Weaver

1-      Anna Brown
2-      Tom Stiles
3-      Monique Shealy
H.M.  Jarrod Powers

1-      Joseph Mash
2-      Chad Weaver
3-      Anna Brown

Misc Aviation
1-      Alex Sweeney
2-      Joseph Mash
3-      Tom Stiles

1-      Monique Shealy
2-      Tom Stiles
3-      Joseph Mash

Digitally Altered
1-      Anna Brown
2-      Monique Shealy
3-      Alexander Peters

The first glimpse of the winners' photography will be featured in the 2014/2015 Virginia Department of Aviation's Calendar, which should be published just after the new year. To request a copy send an email to