Gov’s deputy visits Inyokern Airport

California looking for state solution in competition for test sites

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Gov’s deputy visits Inyokern AirportA deputy from the Gov. Jerry Brown’s office made the trip to Inyokern Airport this week to evaluate the local site’s effort to be named one of the Federal Aviation Administration’s six test sites for integrating unmanned aerial systems into federal airspace.

Even though Louis Stewart, deputy director of Business and Economic Development, maintained that the state remains neutral on the two California agencies vying for a test site — IYK and Ventura County — Cal UAS Portal Team Lead Eileen Shibley said she believes the local effort left Stewart with a favorable impression.

“We understand the state’s desire to remain neutral while they vet the California efforts, but our team also knows that we are in a very enviable position being at the center of the largest restricted airspace in the nation,” said Shibley. “That airspace is one of the reasons we have so many firsts in the aerospace and defense industries — and it just makes sense that this is the perfect place to stage this kind of leading-edge research, development, test and evaluation effort.”

“I would 100 percent agree that California is the perfect place for one of these sites,” said Stewart. “We have the most diverse climate, the most talented workforce — this has always been the site of innovation. It makes sense for California.”

He said his office is evaluating the economic impact for the state if the FAA selects a California site. “We are very aware of the FAA process, and this week I am meeting with both Inyokern and Ventura teams.”

Stewart said that his office is doing everything it can to ensure that California is seriously considered. “Our job is to foster an environment where industry can succeed. In California both aerospace and DOD are huge. So we are doing everything we can not only to preserve but grow these important industries.”

He said that governor’s office does not have a timeline or an agenda for when, or if, it will take an official position on the competing state efforts.

The final requirements volumes are due to the FAA May 6. One final volume regarding privacy will be released in June, but sources close to the application process said that since requirements have not been outlined, the majority of contributions are expected to come from FAA, rather than applicants.

Story First Published: 2013-04-10