Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Bell announce agreement

DURANT, Okla. – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) and Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company announced Dec. 16 an agreement to add Bell to the Choctaw Nation Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program team (CNO UASIPP) and begin testing some of the Bell innovations and systems on CNO-owned property in rural southeastern Oklahoma.

The flights and tests will be conducted as part of the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program in preparation for future planned beyond visual line of sight and other more advanced unmanned aircraft system operations.

CNO is one of nine UASIPP sites selected by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao in May 2018.

CNO, Bell and their partners plan to work with the FAA and other federal agencies to enhance emerging aviation technologies and operations to help keep the United States a leader in aviation, the Choctaw Nation said in a news release.

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“The Choctaw Nation continues to be excited to work with our key strategic teammates like Bell as we begin to foster innovation and utilize new technologies in today’s world. Working with an industry leader like Bell validates our investment and highlights all the hard work and success our team has had to date,” said James Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives.

“We are proud and excited to be a part of the CNO UASIPP team,” said Scott Drennan, Bell’s vice president, Innovation. “This agreement will enable us to continue to test our vehicles and work in a collaborative effort with CNO and the FAA to improve aviation technologies and achieve new possibilities together.”

Future missions for the CNO UASIPP team include advanced drone operations – including beyond visual line of sight – for agricultural applications, public safety operations, infrastructure inspections, safe operations over people, and weather related missions.

The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) is an opportunity for state, local, and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration.

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The new release said the program will help the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) craft new enabling rules that allow more complex low-altitude operations by:

• Identifying ways to balance local and national interests related to UAS integration • Improving communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions • Addressing security and privacy risks • Accelerating the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations.

The Choctaw Nation is the third largest Indian Nation in the United States with close to 200,000 tribal members and more than 9,000 employees. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, the historic boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, the news release said.

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For more information about the Choctaw Nation UAS IPP program please visit – FWBP Staff