No Fly Zone: Huntsville Not Selected For National Drone Testing Site

Posted on: 5:01 pm, December 30, 2013, by , updated on: 01:17pm, December 31, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Despite a “massive effort” to land one of six sites across the country for testing unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday Huntsville did not make the cut.

The program was expected to bring lots of new jobs to the region if Huntsville was selected  from a field of 25 proposals from 24 states.

Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce staff joined with local government officials and university staff members to promote bringing the program here.

“We are disappointed,” Chamber Director of Communications Patricia McCarter told WHNT News 19 on Monday. “We threw everything we had at it, and it was just one of those times we had to hear no,” McCarter added.

The FAA announced six sites: University of Alaska, State of Nevada, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Virginia Tech University.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle was among those promoting the city’s potential as a FAA research and test site.

“We’re already developing technology with the UAV center that is here (at Redstone Arsenal),” Battle told our news partners at The Huntsville Times in March. “Now it’s on to how that technology is used in the commercial world.”

The FAA released a statement explaining why the sites were selected.

“In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs,” the FAA said in the press release.

Click here to read the full FAA announcement.

A study done by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International earlier this year found that the unmanned aircraft industry could create as many as 70,000 new jobs in the coming years.

(WHNT News 19′s news partners at contributed to this report)


  • Joseph says:

    I have mixed feelings about this decision. While the program may have brought some jobs, some folks I spoke with were concerned about being used as test subjects for new surveillance technologies. We all got a chuckle when we heard about the town of Deer Trail Colorado planning to issue drone hunting licenses…

  • Ariel says:

    drone hunting?? really?? is that what we’ve come to?! that is sick

  • Michael Kewl says:

    North Dakota made a better offer than Huntsville did…and who really wants a national surveillance program in their hometown where nothing but spying on private citizens will be the end result!

  • Michael Kewl says:

    …and does the Mayor take the “dis”-credit for this failure to lure the jobs he brags about bringing to Huntsville or will he just quietly pass on taking the “fall”???
    Running for Governor can be very tricky it seems!!!

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