The Federal Aviation Administration has granted the University of Alaska authorization to begin flights of unmanned aircraft as part of its research into integrating drones into U.S. air space.
The university in December was picked as one of six test sites. Its Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex will conduct testing in Alaska, Oregon and Hawaii.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the authorization Monday in Anchorage. The university marked the occasion with a short flight in Fairbanks of a drone carrying a camera that will used to count Alaska wildlife.
Huerta says the FAA's focus is not on how drones are used but in how they can be operated safely. That will include finding ways for unmanned aircraft to be seen by pilots operating under visual flight rules.