Leaders Pledge to Protect Public's Privacy, Constitutional Rights if Colorado Secures a Test Site
Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, Gov. John Hickenlooper and five of Colorado's members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging it to select Colorado as one of six planned Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) testing sites. The bipartisan letter notes Colorado's "unique mix of qualifications" for one of the test sites, including its thriving aerospace industry presence and the state's world-class institutions of higher education.
"Colorado is also a significant hub for national space activity, with four key military commands and three space-related Air Force bases located in the Denver Metro area and the Colorado Springs region," the leaders wrote in the letter. "Together, these installations employ thousands of military personnel engaged in aeronautics, aviation and space research, testing and training operations. With the collaboration of the military, high-caliber academic and research institutions, and hundreds of private companies, Colorado has the industrial base to facilitate cutting-edge UAS research, development and testing."
The FAA is expected to announce the locations of its six sites by December 31, 2013.
The Brookings Institution recently issued a report underscoring the importance of the state's aerospace and innovation economies.
View the letter by clicking HERE or reading below:
The Honorable Michael P. Huerta
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20591
Dear Administrator Huerta:
We write in support of Colorado’s application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to host one of six Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) testing sites across the country. The University of Colorado Boulder, representing the Colorado UAS Team (a public-private consortium of UAS stakeholders), has put forward a unified application, making the case that Colorado should be home to one of the FAA test sites. Colorado has a unique mix of qualifications that makes it ideal for this designation, and we urge the FAA to approve our state’s application.
Colorado’s robust aerospace industry creates an ideal environment for UAS operations. Colorado ranks first in the nation for private aerospace employment concentration, with highly ranked university engineering programs, including a graduate-level aerospace engineering program that was ranked second in the nation in the most recent National Research Council report. Colorado’s aerospace industry directly employs close to 25,000 private sector workers, with an average salary of $120,310. The aerospace cluster in Colorado also supports approximately 30,000 military personnel. A 2013 study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International reports that Colorado is poised to create almost 1,200 new jobs during the first three years following the integration of UAS into U.S. national airspace systems.
Colorado is also a significant hub for national space activity, with four key military commands and three space-related Air Force bases located in the Denver Metro area and the Colorado Springs region. Together, these installations employ thousands of military personnel engaged in aeronautics, aviation and space research, testing, and training operations. With the collaboration of the military, high-caliber academic and research institutions, and hundreds of private companies, Colorado has the industrial base to facilitate cutting-edge UAS research, development, and testing.
The state has other unique advantages for hosting UAS operations. Colorado has some of the most diverse terrain in the continental United States, including large mountainous areas and some of the highest altitude regions to facilitate a wide range of conditions for UAS testing. UAS, properly utilized and carefully deployed, can also play an important public safety role by helping first responders monitor and respond more effectively to new wildfires in Colorado and throughout the West.
We also want to highlight the extraordinary size, diversity, and unity of the Colorado coalition that is proposing to bring a test site to our state. Close to one hundred team members, representing ten regional economic development agencies, seven universities, five industry associations, two state agencies, and dozens of private companies have come together to develop a robust and innovative proposal that leverages the wealth of UAS assets and expertise that resides in Colorado. We believe this approach is critical for ensuring the success and sustainability of a UAS test site.
Finally, we want to emphasize that the safety and constitutionally guaranteed privacy of our constituents is paramount. A UAS test site holds the possibility of significant economic benefits for Colorado, creating jobs and spurring innovation at companies and research institutions across the state. Yet our first responsibility is to ensure that Colorado UAS test-site operations would not violate the privacy or jeopardize the safety of any American. The Colorado UAS coalition is committed to meeting privacy regulations and best practices promulgated by the FAA. We urge the FAA to expeditiously provide additional guidance on privacy, including rules governing operations in the vicinity of private residences, to safeguard the privacy of Americans anywhere UAS will operate under this new program. The Colorado UAS Team has committed to address privacy and safety issues in its application, and to continue this commitment through the site operation process.
In conclusion, we are confident that Colorado is an ideal location for one of the six UAS test sites that the FAA will designate, and we strongly support our state’s application. We offer ourselves as a resource to both the FAA and the state to facilitate this process, and look forward to the many economic benefits that civilian UAS operations, with rigorous privacy and safety safeguards, can bring to Colorado in the coming years.