COLUMBUS — The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Certificate of Authorization (COA) to Mississippi State University for Stark Aerospace to fly the Heron Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) from Golden Triangle Regional Airport (GTRA).
A COA is a waiver issued by the FAA to allow limited UAS flight in National Air Space. MSU is the public sponsor of the COA, which specifically allows for the flight of the Stark Aerospace Heron inside the traffic control area of GTRA.
“This is a significant step as we continue to establish the Golden Triangle as a leader in the aerospace industry,” said Mike Hainsey, executive director of GTRA.
GTRA is unique among commercial service airports as a very limited number have a COA for UAS operations.
Dr. Robert Moorhead, director of MSU’s Geosystems Research Institute and the university’s lead on this COA project, said, “The COA effort between Mississippi State University and Stark Aerospace facilitates the flight of unmanned systems in the Golden Triangle, further strengthening the university’s aerospace engineering program and our efforts toward regional excellence in unmanned aerial systems.”
The UAS Production Division of Stark Aerospace originated at MSU’s Raspet Flight Lab, and Stark has utilized the MSU Bagley School of Engineering for training.
The Heron Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAS is produced at Stark Aerospace. The Stark Flight Operations Team has flown the Heron in support of the U.S. government and has experience flying the aircraft in commercial airspace outside of the U.S. With a 550-pound simultaneous multi-sensor payload ability, 30,000-foot altitude, and more than 30 hours endurance, the Heron UAS has superior reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities and is in use in 27 countries.
Source: Stark Aerospace