December 27, 2010 – El Dorado, KS – The FAA has granted two Certificates of Authorization (COA) to the City of El Dorado Kansas to fly Unmanned Aircraft at El Dorado Municipal Captain Jack Thomas Memorial Airport (FAA Identifier EQA) for the next twelve months (12). The COAs are renewable. A Certificate of Authorization (COA) is granted by the FAA to Public Entities desiring Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operations and allows the entity to use defined airspace for specified times and includes special provisions unique to each operation. COAs require coordination with an appropriate air traffic control facility (Wichita ATC).
The City of El Dorado applied for the COAs earlier this year after signing an agreement with Flint Hills Solutions (FHS), a Butler County high technology UAS solutions provider. The agreement between the City of El Dorado and FHS includes the delegation to FHS by El Dorado to be the COA technical application administer as well as the UAS designated operator for the City at El Dorado Airport. Both the City of El Dorado and Flint Hills Solutions have agreed to work together to jointly promote the Airport as “UAS Friendly” to all Public Entities including Emergency Responders, Law Enforcement, Fire Departments, as well as State and Federal organizations, requiring airspace, facilities and technical support to train and operate unmanned aircraft in support of their Public Safety mission objectives. The City and FHS have plans to construct a new operations and training center at El Dorado airport in 2011.
“El Dorado airport will be a superior place for UAS operations and is perfectly situated 30 miles from Wichita Kansas that allows for training and operations outside of Class B, C or D airspace,” said Roger Powers, President & CEO of Flint Hills Solutions. “Other airports we have evaluated are either too remote or too congested for safe operations of UASs. We are so fortunate to be able to grow with El Dorado and be a part of what Industry experts say is a $16B per year market by 2016. We have signed many Mutual Aid Agreements with our public entity partners in the Midwest including Butler County Kansas to utilize our Unmanned Aircraft for their emergency requirements. El Dorado Airport will be a great asset for the State of Kansas as well as any Midwestern State to train for critical Public Safety missions.”
“We are very excited to be a part of this exceptional opportunity for our City, said Herb Llewellyn, City Manager for El Dorado. “These COAs are just the official start of what will be a long and productive partnership with Flint Hills Solutions to grow high technology jobs in our wonderful City.”
The UAS’s that will be operated initially at El Dorado Airport include the FHS FH-700 Fixed Wing unmanned aircraft and the FH-520 Vertical Take Off and Landing Helicopter. Both systems are fully autonomous Unmanned Aerial Systems and weigh less than 55 pounds. The UAS’s are currently being used by Government Public Entities for Aerial Inspections, Emergency Response, Fire & Rescue, and other Public Safety operations.
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