Wichita Airport Authority and The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), Division of Aviation, received authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) test flights at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (ICT). Flights began on September 16th.
Inspection missions will include obstruction analysis, foreign object detection, wildlife hazard management, and airfield emergency response. FAA authorization was received through partnership with the Wichita Airport Authority, Kansas State University and George Butler Associates.
Operations will focus on UAS integration to increase Kansas airport efficiency by reducing in depth inspection time by half, as well as improving the accuracy. The authorization also included a precedent setting FAA waiver to conduct night time flights on the airport and allows KDOT to provide the FAA much needed data on UAS integration in complex airspace.
“This FAA approval will significantly improve airport efficiency and safety,” said KDOT Director of Aviation Bob Brock. “We look forward to expanding Kansas airport inspection capabilities across the state and developing new capabilities to drive industry growth.”
The operations are part of the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), which involves nine regional efforts to conduct advanced UAS operations. It is hoped that this program will yield sufficient data for rule-making that will result in access to new technologies for airports across the nation.
“The Wichita Airport Authority is proud to be a supporting partner with the FAA, KDOT, and others in this Pilot Program,” said Brian Cowles, Airport Operations Manager.