Crisfield, Md.- A group of aviation experts propose plans to conduct drone testing at the Crisfield-Somerset County Airport.
In December of 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration awarded one of six bids to Virginia Tech, which partnered with Rutgers University and University Maryland System campuses, to research and develop ways to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into national airspace.
The institutions are a part of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, also known as MAAP. The unmanned aircraft system test site director for the A. James Clark School of Engineering at UMD, Matt Scassero, said the Crisfield Airport is best fit for testing because it is easy to get to with little air traffic. The group would also have access to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station's restricted space.
If plans are approved, Scassero said the project would start small. The group would test one system. He said the drone would be the Talon-240, weighing in at less than one hundred pounds. It would be used for public safety and agricultural purposes.
Phil Riggin lives adjacent to the airport. He said planes do not come through often, but when they do, it does not bother he and his wife.
"We expected, when we moved here, that it would continue to be a very small community airport where all the plane traffic was either one or two inch planes," Riggin said. " That's what it's continued to be up to this point."
Riggin said he has some concerns about plans to bring drone testing to the area.
"I guess our biggest concern is about how big the project might get in terms of infrastructure at the airport, construction of buildings , communications and towers, " Riggin said.
Somerset County officials said plans are in its early stages. They will not make any decisions until they learn more about what drone testing at Crisfield Airport would require.
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