The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Drone Research program achieved a significant milestone as it gained approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to oversee unmanned aircraft flights for other organizations.

Under the special waiver granted, the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration (ACUASI), a part of UAF’s Geophysical Institute, will be responsible for determining the airworthiness of drones from companies and organizations that are testing their equipment in designated airspace areas.

As a result of the ACUASI’s involvement, testing procedures will be streamlined for customers. Under the waiver, the ACUASI will take charge of overseeing drone operations weighing less than 300 pounds.

The waiver permits the testing and evaluation of larger drones under real-world conditions and can foster the growth of the drone economy both in Alaska and nationwide.

The ACUASI has several established airspace ranges for testing,…