How Drone Ranges are Helping Advance R&D Initiatives


The terrain of the northwest is important to the industry with a diverse test range where the industry can research, develop, and help make further strides in the industry with manufacturing and operations.

Host Grant Guillot of Drones in America chats with Darryl Abling, the Range Manager for Pendleton UAS Range and Steve Chrisman, the Economic Development Director and Airport Manager for Pendleton.

“The range is based out of Eastern Oregon Airport, and it consists of 14,000 square miles of airspace in northeastern Oregon with a huge amount of space for people to come and test,” Abling said.

In addition to Pendleton’s large airspace their customers can fly both large and small aircrafts, which has about 15,000 feet. “It really provides an awesome capability for testing; people can get extremely high altitude which is uncommon for a range,” he said.

Pendleton’s low and high-altitude range also provides an environmental factor with “quite a bit of environmental test cases that a customer can do depending on their needs,” Chrisman stated.

The need for large amounts of wide-open space tends to be critical for new testing and for those who haven’t completed a full certification and for testing that requires a non-populated area, an advantage that works for Pendleton.

“We have a variety of companies we connect with who test from commercial Industries to the Department of Defense, and here at the airport, we have agreements with other landowners and other airports. You name it if it’s related to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), it’s operating here at Pendleton,” Chrisman said.

As the future of drone technology progresses, Pendleton is at the forefront providing the range and the data for testing.

“One of our specialties are to be fast, affordable and efficient and help people get in the air quickly and break down some of the barriers for the process of commercializing technology,” Chrisman said. “I think when you see companies like Urban Air Mobility becoming a thing in the next several years, that began at Pendleton for a large part.”

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