The university and the City of Corpus Christi are working on a lease deal so drones could soon be flying in and out of the airport.
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Texas A&M University-Corpus Christ drone program is all but set to take over one of the smaller hangers out of the international airport as it looks to expand its presence in the Coastal Bend.
The idea is to continue to run the operations out of the University’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft System Center in Flour Bluff.
Lone Star U-A-S Assistant Director of Operations, Testing, & Evaluation Tye Payne said that the hanger location at the airport will allow his team to continue to work on integrating drones into national airspace.
“What we are trying to do is to work with the Corpus Christi International Airport and the FAA traffic control facility to really bring that into fruition right,” he said.
The program has a number of different types of aircraft that it flies. Those include drones residents can pick up at an electronics store all the way up to some that are fixed wing, 15 feet wide and can fly up to 18 plus hours at 18-thousand feet.
Lone Star U-A-S Senior Pilot Seth Foster is a senior drone pilot and is working with one of the new kids on the block Ashley Marion. Foster said he started out working in the GIS field collecting geographic information. He said the drones are so much better for that type of work.
“You know data collection used to be very expensive field. We had to use manned aviators, right we had to hire helicopters and airplanes and all of that stuff and now we can strap $100,000 sensor on aircraft and collect that data in a much more safe and effective environment,” he said.
Payne said he believes this will only be the second class c airport location in the country that will have drones flying in and out of it. He’s hoping that the work that will go on at the airport will help to convince the government to put new rules and regulations in place to allow drone flights to become commonplace.
“Absolutely, we’re going to be flying aircraft for hundreds of miles or controlling aircraft on the West Coast from the East Coast and Vice versa. But the technology is there it’s just a matter of being able to use it,” he said.
Corpus Christi City Council will vote on Oct. 10 on the proposed lease to bring part of the university’s drone program out to the airport where it could soon be taking off from there just like the big commercial jets.
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