Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and Choctaw Nation Continue Partnership Advancing Aviation

Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center Partnership

Kelsey Brown/Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Pictured from left to right: Lance Brown (FAA), Shawn Tufts (FAA), Robert Loveland (FAA), Jean Meeker (FAA), Eli Velazquez (FAA), Gene Hart (FAA), Josh Graham (FAA Contractor), Claude Self (CNO), Brian Post (CNO), Jeremy Edwards (FAA Contractor), Tyson Barfuss (FAA Contractor) and Kory Ferguson (FAA Contractor).

Advanced Technology Initiatives News

DURANT, OK – The Federal Aviation Administration‘s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) recently collaborated by testing a series of successful Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) scenarios in varying terrain, infrared and thermal power line assessments, and various detect and avoid (DAA) sequences at the Choctaw Nation’s Emerging Aviation Technology Center (EATC) near Redden, OK.

These advances could pave the way for broader implementation of BLVOS maintenance and evaluations operations in the National Airspace System (NAS), ranging from UAS systems scans of remote navigational equipment to disaster site evaluations.

The organizations also performed Satellite Communications (SATCOM) testing and scenarios in different environments. This testing and collaboration are vital to advancing the development and integration into what is already a complex NAS, while promoting initiatives relative to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related programs.

CNO Chief Gary Batton and the Director of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, Michelle Coppedge, along with the Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives with CNO, James Grimsley, executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in February 2021. Since the signing of the MOU, both organizations have collaborated on several initiatives and opportunities to be announced in the future.

The MOU allows the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and Choctaw Nation to share resources and connect stakeholders to facilitate timely implementation, operational integration and measurable benefits as new technologies begin to enter the nation’s airspace. Together the entities can leverage resources for sharing information, planning, developing and implementing emerging aerospace technologies.

“The FAA Mike Moroney Aeronautical Center plays a vital role in aviation safety for the United States, and even the globe,” said Grimsley. “The Aeronautical Center is also a very important part of our regional aviation ecosystem, and we are honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with the FAA aviation professionals at the Center to promote and prepare for an even safer future for aviation.”

Both entities bring valuable aerospace expertise to the testing and collaboration, as Choctaw Nation is one of eight Lead Participants in the United States as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) BEYOND Program. The Choctaw Nations is the only tribal government selected for this program.

The Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center is home to over 6,300 employees, contractors and students and contributes $1.65B to Oklahoma’s economy. The Aeronautical Center touches every aspect of the nation’s airspace by providing training, supply chain management, medical and educational human factors research, a national registration database of all aircraft and pilots in the U.S. and offering financial management and acquisition services to any federal entity.

“Undoubtedly, this ongoing collaboration and testing will be important for emerging aviation and integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace Systems,” said Grimsley.

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 choctawnation.com.


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