SIERRA VISTA (AP) — Despite Arizona losing out on a federal contract to be a launching pad for drones, a group in the southern part of the state is going ahead with its plans for a private test site.
The Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation unveiled a new testing facility this week in Sierra Vista that it hopes will draw smaller companies in the unmanned-aircraft industry.
“We already had a backup plan in place and not being part of the FAA’s selection wasn’t going to hinder it in any way,” said Mignonne Hollis, the foundation’s executive director. “We were ready to move forward with our own test site.”
In December, the Federal Aviation Administration selected six states to be nationwide test sites for developing a plan to integrate unmanned aircraft into U.S. airspace. Arizona’s bid was rejected. Hollis worked with the Arizona Commerce Authority and Thompson-Wimmer, a firm that consults on unmanned-aircraft, on the bid. She said the group changed gears and decided to focus on private, entrepreneurial companies in the industry.
The site occupies 160 acres of land in Cochise County, near Whetstone.