Australia constructs flight test range for drones

| Aerospace Testing

Drone proving ground to become largest such test facility in Queensland

QinetiQ is designing and constructing a flight test range (FTR) for the Queensland Government in Australia for testing Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

The range will be located at Cloncurry Aerodrome in North West Queensland and will consist of access to a commercial quality runway, dedicated hangar and workshop, range control centre, range control system including a primary surveillance radar and other surveillance and tracking equipment, dedicated airspace and regulatory approvals for UAS FTR operations.

According to QinetiQ Australia’s Managing Director, Greg Barsby, QinetiQ is supporting the Queensland Government’s ambitions in UAS technologies through the creation of the flight test range facility at Cloncurry.

“Together with our partners, QinetiQ manages some of the world’s most advanced range facilities for land, maritime and aerospace testing. By drawing on this experience, QinetiQ is able to support Queensland in delivering what will be the largest facility of this kind in the region,” he says.

The new range is expected to be a critical component in the overall system for the development and delivery of drones by enabling and connecting high-technology UAS programmes and initiatives.

The initial capability offered by the facility will support all weight classes of UAS for routine flying operations, demonstration activities and test and evaluation trials of moderate complexity. Future phases of development will support the full range of ground and flight test activity, providing an Australian home for carrying out highly complex developmental test programmes.

Queensland Minister for State Development, Tourism and Innovation Kate Jones said the project will provide a key missing element for UAS research and development. “The Queensland Government was the first in Australia to launch a drone strategy, and now we’re well on the way to becoming the nation’s drone technology capital.”

She went on to say that the facility is expected to be finished later this year.

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