McCarthy urges gov. to support Cal UAS

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

While the FAA continues to examine candidates for test sites to integrate unmanned aerial systems into federal airspace, Rep. Kevin McCarthy wrote to Gov. Jerry Brown urging him to support the local efforts of the Cal UAS Portal.

“This region of California has long been an innovator for new aerospace technologies, and locating a UAS test site in Ridgecrest will continue this legacy for our state,” reads the letter.

He said the Inyokern airport is a great candidate in part because of its remote, rural location, where low population density reduces the national privacy concerns. He noted that it is also within a 75-mile radius of existing UAS work.

McCarthy said the airspace complex surrounding Inyokern is one of the largest areas of restricted airspace in the country and possesses most of the infrastructure required to host a test site.

He also noted academic partnerships as well as teaming agreements with military and industry interests.

“The current assets and potential of Inyokern, including its infrastructure, airspace, location and UAS research, test and development, make it ideal to be one of the six FAA UAS test sites,” wrote McCarthy.

“More importantly, selecting Inyokern as an FAA site ensures the creation of more much-needed high-tech jobs for California, along with new manufacturing opportunities, and building upon the expertise of the people already located in the community.”

The Cal UAS Portal, which is currently teamed with San Diego and Imperial counties, was originally partnered with Ventura County. When Ventura decided to pursue its own application for test site selection, state officials declined to endorse either effort.

A hearing earlier this year before the Assembly Select Committee resulted in divided political alliances, with Ventura supporters highlighting significant financial backing and Inyokern advocates pointing to the advantages of its geographic location.

In addition to the endorsement of McCarthy, the Cal UAS Portal has also been backed by state Sen. Jean Fuller, Assemblymembers Shannon Grove and Steve Fox and the members of the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

Story First Published: 2013-09-04