MRO Magazine

News Coalition Launches Hands-On Drone Testing Program with Virginia Tech


June 16, 2015
By Business Wire News

BEALETON, Va.

A coalition of 15 leading news media companies today launched research testing of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for news gathering in partnership with Virginia Tech, one of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-designated test sites for drone research.

These flight tests are the first of a series of controlled testing of real-life scenarios, to simulate news events that the media can safely report on using small UAS technology. This will be the first time reporters and photographers are at the controls of the aircraft to test news gathering.

“The AP and its media coalition partners are excited to harness this new technology to inform the world,” said Sandy MacIntyre, Associated Press Vice President & Director of Global Video. “This program will allow us to use these new tools safely and effectively while also benefiting from the many new angles of visual newsgathering. A great step forward in new storytelling.”

The news media coalition is comprised of the following 15 media companies: American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.; Advance Publications, Inc.; A. H. Belo Corporation; The Associated Press; Capitol Broadcasting Co.; The E.W. Scripps Company; Fusion; Gannett Co., Inc.; Getty Images (US), Inc.; NBCUniversal; The New York Times Company; Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.; Thomson Reuters (Markets), LLC; Univision; and The Washington Post. The coalition consulted closely with the National Press Photographers Association in developing realistic testing protocols for these research flights.

Rose Mooney, executive director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, said, “The research testing we are initiating will provide the news media coalition a safe and innovative way to gather and disseminate information and keep journalists out of harm’s way.”

The research program will include news gathering that simulates various locations, including remote regions and urban environments. The research tests, which begin today at a facility in Bealeton, VA, are designed to pioneer the way forward for safe UAS news gathering.

The coalition has worked with the law firm of Holland & Knight LLP since mid-2014 to consult with the FAA and Virginia Tech and design the news testing program.

Holland & Knight
Chuck Tobin, (202) 419-2539
charles.tobin@hklaw.com