Today, Congressman Mike Turner (OH-3) submitted the following statement for the Congressional Record in support of language establishing six Unmanned Aerial Systems testing sites included in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. The legislation includes language authored by Turner, who worked with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to see it included in the original House bill.

Turner also successfully added similar language to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which was signed into law late December 2011. The conference committee of House and Senate members expanded the amount of testing sites that Turner requested from four to six in this final legislation, and cited Turner’s NDAA language in support of the testing sites to be named by the FAA Administrator. The language allows such Southwest Ohio facilities as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Wilmington Air Park to be considered for designated testing sites for UAS research. 

Establishment of UAS Test Ranges
Statement of the Honorable Michael R. Turner
Conference Report for H.R. 658, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act

Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the conference report for H.R. 658, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act.  This bipartisan, fiscally responsible, four-year authorization measure contains important provisions on air traffic control modernization, safety improvements, and job creation through technology and research.

In particular, the final bill includes important provisions which I co-authored to establish a program for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) test ranges.  Unmanned aircraft are an evolving technology that will play an increasingly larger role in modern aviation.  The importance of these systems to our national defense demonstrates their capability.

The uses of UAS have significantly increased, with strong projected growth.  UAS are used not only for military applications, but also civilian and commercial purposes, such as border and coastal patrol and monitoring, homeland security, law enforcement, disaster operations, digital mapping and planning, search and rescue, fire detection and management, environmental research and air quality management, air traffic control support, agriculture and fisheries.  However, lack of special use airspace to research UAS technologies and detection techniques is a potential impediment to the nation’s ability to develop this important tool.

Mr. Speaker, I have worked with my colleagues in the House Armed Services Committee to create more opportunities for UAS research and investment.  Specifically, the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act requires the FAA to work with the Department of Defense and the Air Force to integrate UAS test ranges into the national airspace.

These combined provisions will ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of aerospace development.  Ultimately, this is an endeavor that will help strengthen our national defense, spur development of innovative technologies, and most importantly, create jobs for hard-working Americans at a time of record unemployment.

The Full UAS Language Can Be Found Here.