Drone training facility coming to Garfield County airport | PostIndependent.com

Drone training facility coming to Garfield County airport

A new facility designed to house small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and a flight qualification course is coming to the Rifle Garfield County Airport.

The Garfield Board of County Commissioners recently approved a $331,450 contract with Kuersten Construction, LLC, for construction of the building.

The Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting (CoE) will proctor the drone training in the building, according to a county news release. The CoE is part of the Colorado Department of Public Safety. It currently leases space at the airport from the county, and the new structure will be incorporated into the existing lease, according to the release.

The Colorado Department of Public Safety will use this facility to certify drone pilots using standard test methods that have been developed through a collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and ASTM International.

The small UASs will be flown inside the roughly 7,000-square-foot facility, which is designed to measure 70 feet long and 100 feet wide, and 45 feet tall.

The flight qualification course is used to test public safety drone pilots on basic operating skills, according to the release. The structure will consist of a fabric cover over a metal frame, allowing remote signals to pass into the building.

“By keeping the UAS flights indoors, the CoE can provide year-around remote pilot evaluations for the region, regardless of weather conditions outside,” the release explained.

“The Colorado Department of Public Safety is committed to professional small UAS operations and this facility, the first of its kind in the state, supports that mission,” Ben Miller, director of the Center of Excellence, said in the release.

An open house is being scheduled to highlight the facility and work by the CoE after construction is complete later this year.

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