Cochran: Committee Boosts Funding for Drone Research - Mississippi State Led ASSURE Plays Key Role in UAS R&D

April 22, 2016

Story PhotoWASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved increased FY2017 funding to boost research into the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national air space, a mission of the Federal Aviation Administration center of excellence led by Mississippi State University.
Cochran is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which today approved the FY2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Bill, which contains funding for UAS research, transportation and aviation priorities, and housing programs for vulnerable populations, including homeless veterans and youths. The measure was approved 30-0.
"This Senate bill strives to responsibly determine where to use limited taxpayer funding to improve the nation's infrastructure, promote community economic growth and address housing needs," Cochran said.
Cochran worked to increase the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS research account to $17.6 million in the THUD appropriations bill.  The bill would direct $10 million of that funding to support the work of the FAA Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence (COE).  The program received $5.0 million in federal funding FY2016, which was matched by private sector funds.  The FY2017 funding will generate similar private sector investment.
"The growing use and greater potential for unmanned aircraft systems has created new areas of research into how to integrate these aircraft into the national airspace effectively and safely," Cochran said.  "Mississippi State, with its many university and private sector partners, is playing an important role in making sure that this integration goes well."
The COE is a public-private partnership headed by a consortium led by Mississippi State in coordination with 21 other leading universities with expertise in UAS research and development.  The FAA Reauthorization Bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday includes a Cochran amendment to strengthen COE efforts by preventing duplicative research efforts.
The FY2017 THUD Appropriations Bill is now available for consideration by the full Senate.