BNSF Railway Tests Unmanned Aircraft with Lone Star UAS Center

Published: June 02, 2015

BNSF Railway Tests Unmanned Aircraft with Lone Star UAS Center

PORT MANSFIELD, Texas – The Lone Star UAS Center completed a week of testing with a private client at the Port Mansfield airport the week of May 25.

The client, BNSF Railway, tested unmanned aircraft.

“The Lone Star UAS Center successfully completed our second mission for BNSF Railway,” said Matt Nelson, Mission Director with the Lone Star UAS Center. “This test focused on aircraft command control representative of the railway network. The test was successful, and we are planning for the next transportation industry mission.”

The Lone Star Center, one of six federally approved test sites, is tasked with assisting the Federal Aviation Administration with the integrating into the national airspace unmanned aircraft, sometimes called drones or remotely piloted aircraft.

The Center works with clients interested in using UAS in a variety of applications and provides FAA-approved testing locations.

Unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, are able to collect aerial imagery that will be vital to research, business, and safety. Areas of use for UAS are likely to include

  • search-and rescue missions, surveying disaster areas or accident scenes
  • mapping coastlines to observe changes over time 
  • inventorying wildlife, habitats, agriculture, and pipelines through remote areas.

The Lone Star Center will report the results of these tests to the FAA regarding research goals, including air traffic control and communications, developing protocols for dealing with runways in use by piloted craft and ensuring air traffic control communications between the UAS and Mission Control Center.

While the test site designation does not come with federal funding, studies indicate an economic impact of about $6.5 billion and 8,256 jobs statewide in the decade following full integration of UAS into the national airspace system.

This week (June 1-5), Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is conducting tests with its UAS at the Port Mansfield airport.