Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Continues Partnership with Federal Aviation Administration to Launch Second Phase of Unmanned Aircraft Integration Pilot Program – BEYOND

BEYOND Partnership

Advanced Technology Initiatives News

DURANT, Okla. — The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) announced today its selection for participation in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) BEYOND program, as part of a follow-on effort to the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP).

In the new program, CNO will continue its partnership with the FAA to safely test and validate advanced operations for drones in partnership with tribal, state and local governments in select jurisdictions. BEYOND will address specific challenges remaining at the closure of the UASIPP. The UAS BEYOND program will focus on:

  • The steps necessary to facilitate scalable, repeatable and economically feasible Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations;
  • Collection, measurement and response efforts for community feedback related to UAS operations; and,
  • The quantification and measurement of societal and economic impact of various UAS operations.

“The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is very happy with our continued collaboration with the FAA and our partners,” states Chief Gary Batton. “We believe this reflects very well on our continued leadership in emerging technologies and our efforts to identify and grow economic opportunities for our region. We realize that this technology has the potential to change our daily lives in many positive ways.”

Over the past three years Choctaw Nation accomplished several milestones in the UASIPP and CNO is looking forward to many more accomplishments in the future in preparation of the next phase of the FAA’s BEYOND program.

  • The only tribal government designated as a lead participant in the UASIPP.
  • The first tribal government recognized by the FAA as a Public Aircraft Operator (PAO).
  • The only lead participant to work with the Volpe Center on testing acoustics for UAS.

The CNO UAS IPP team consisted of a mixture of industry, non-profit and academic partners such as the Noble Research Institute, Bell Flight, Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) and AiRXOS (part of GE Aviation).

The CNO team will continue to collaborate with Oklahoma State University to conduct UAS weather research focused on improving the understanding of weather and winds at low altitude. The aim is to improve safety for Unmanned Aircraft systems (UAS) flying in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) operations. The challenge the team is addressing will have an impact across a wide range of aircraft, not only helping advance the integration of drones and urban air taxis into the national airspace, but also increasing the safety of air transportation and airport operations for all aircraft from airliners and general aviation aircraft.

“We look forward to participating in the FAA BEYOND program, and helping the U.S. remain globally competitive in emerging aviation technology fields”, states James Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives. “We are excited to promote job growth, economic development, and important educational opportunities for our citizens and our neighbors in southeastern Oklahoma.”

More information related to the FAA BEYOND can be found at

About the UAS IPP Program

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. 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 UAS 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 program is expected to foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the USDOT on expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

About the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 225,000 tribal members and 12,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation's vision, "Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture," is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage, and traditions, please visit


Contact Kristina Humenesky for any media relations needs at [email protected]