FAA Approves PrecisionHawk UAV for First Flight at N.Y. Test Site

PrecisionHawk announced today that its UAV platform, the Lancaster Mark III, has been granted the first FAA Certificate of Authorization for operation at the N.Y. test site. The fixed wing platform, a small (4ft) and lightweight (4lb) UAV, will be used by research teams out of Cornell Cooperative Extension to study agricultural advancements achievable using aerial remote sensing technology. The COA becomes one of a very small group of flight authorizations that does not require the UAV user to obtain a FAA pilot’s certificate for operation.

“The approval of this particular COA represents a very strategic and exciting step forward by the FAA,” said PrecisionHawk spokesperson Lia Reich. “By allowing the users, in this case the research teams at Cornell, to forgo the time and financial resources it requires to obtain a private pilot’s license, our UAV platform will be available for data collection at the team’s operational convenience, which is exactly the use-case we created it for.”

The Griffiss International Airport, a former Air Force base in upstate New York, was named one of the six nationwide test sites for commercial UAV testing at the end of 2013. N.Y. won the bid led by the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR). NUAIR has been playing a key role in helping the FAA map out the integration of commercial UAVs into the US airspace. The PrecisionHawk platform will be available to concentrate on several key research projects including safety of operations and data gathering in authorized airspace, UAS airworthiness standards and sense-and-avoid technologies.

“The data the Griffiss team plans to acquire and share will help the FAA in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested Northeast airspace,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The PrecisionHawk platform provides users with fast and accurate data acquisition that is automatically processed and delivered to clients in relevant and usable formats. Programmed with a high level of artificial intelligence, the ability to operate autonomously greatly enhances the ease of use for operations and creates consistency in both the flight itself and resulting data products. Over 15 plug and play sensors are currently integrated into the platform for data collection including visual, multispectral, thermal, video and LIDAR. The ease with which PrecisionHawk is able to integrate sensors into the hardware allows for unmatched flexibility that will be useful in CCE research and testing.

Currently PrecisionHawk works with clients on a global scale across a wide variety of verticals including agriculture, insurance, oil and gas, emergency response and forestry, among others. In March, the team was called to Oso, Washington to create 3D terrain reconstructions using UAV imagery to assist the rebuilding process following the devastating landslide. However, much of the company’s work has been heavily focused on solving agricultural problems in conjunction with some of the top seed companies and universities. By providing data of the highest quality and resolution, detailed information such as crop health, stand counting and nitrogen measurements can be achieved at minimal effort and cost.

Flights are scheduled to begin in two weeks.

For more information: FAA Announces New York UAS Test Site is Operational


Contact: Lia Reich, l.reich@precisionhawk.com, 919-680-1296