© 2022 MICHIGAN RADIO
91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transportation & Infrastructure

First Michigan airport approved by FAA for drone testing

The ArduCopter from DIY Drones can take pictures in the sky.
DIY Drones
/

Got a drone you want to test? 

Now you’ve got a place in Michigan to do just that, whether the drone is for military, commercial or academic use.  

“There are no other places in Michigan that are doing this,” says Steve Smigelski, manager of the Alpena County Regional Airport.

The FAA just approved the airport as a drone test site, in part because of its location.

“One of the biggest things that we’ve got going for us, beside the uncongested airspace, is we have large areas with no houses,” says Smigelski.

“So even though they’re testing small drones, in the event it were to catastrophically fail, there’s no worry about it hitting somebody’s house.”

The FAA requires approved airports to have a certain level of tracking capability, he says, so regulators can keep an eye on certain tests or send out a “chase plane” if needed.

That’s according to Smigelski, who says they’ve already got companies interested in using the airport to test new drone applications.

“[One company has a drone] that inspects silos for farmers. It actually flies up the side with a set of wheels to do fine inspections, or it can fly away and do farther inspections. And it records everything so you can see what’s going on.”   

Local officials are hoping Alpena’s new drone-testing ability gets companies interested in relocating to the area. 

Related Content