ELKO — Soon, the skies over Elko might get a little more crowded.
At the Elko City Council meeting Tuesday, council members will consider approving unmanned aircraft system, or drone, testing at the Elko Regional Airport.
Nevada — along with Alaska, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia — was chosen to develop test sites. Airport Director Mark Gibbs said Elko’s airport was the only one interested in becoming a test site in northeastern Nevada.
Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, a state-sanctioned, nonprofit organization, will research and develop UAS technologies in the state through a Federal Aviation Administration grant. NIAS brings together universities, military organizations and private corporations that are involved in aerospace technology.
The NIAS website states Nevada is a top choice for drone testing because of its “special use airspace, exceptional flying weather and multiple airfield locations over sparsely populated areas.” The state will be able to accommodate everything from small low-speed aircraft to supersonic vehicles.
The drones will also collect data for mining and agricultural purposes while they roam the skies, Gibbs said. Drones are a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft.
“It makes it significantly cheaper to capture data,” Gibbs said.
If the test site is approved by council, the airport will apply for a special operating certificate for UAS. NIAS and the airport would then develop a confidentiality agreement. The test site will come at no cost to the city, Gibbs said.
The drones would use Runway 12/30, a 3,000 foot crosswind runway, for takeoff and landing. The drones will also follow special procedures and routes. Gibbs said the runway is used by only 3 percent of airport traffic and the drones will not affect passenger air travel.
“UAS flights will not affect passenger service,” he said.
Gibbs believes the test site will bring the aerospace industry to Elko. Nevada is leading the country in this technology, he said.
For information, go to www.nias-uas.com.
At the meeting, council may also:
• Approve the consolidated annual financial report and audit for the city for the 2012/2013 fiscal year.
• Select a financing method for the construction of the proposed new police station in the amount of $3 million.
• Change a vacant police captain position to one administrative assistant and one police officer.
• Award a bid for vehicle extrication and stabilization equipment for the fire department.
• Approve Zion’s Bank Public Finance to serve as financial advisor for the construction of the new police station.
• Approve Swendseid & Stern law firm to serve as bond counsel for the construction of the new police station.
• Accept public improvements for the Autumn Colors Phase 1 subdivision.
• Direct staff to initiate adoption of new building and fire codes.
• Review 2013 goals and objectives and discuss goals and objectives for 2014.
• Authorize Elko Municipal Court to retain administrative assessments and court facility fees.
• Amend the Younger Agency Master Marketing Agreement by adding five LED signs inside the airport terminal.
• Direct staff to implement the design and master plan phase for the Ruby View Golf Course irrigation project.
• Adopt the bylaws for the Elko Centennial Committee.
• Approve Revocable Permit No. 1-14 to occupy a portion of the Idaho Street right-of-way adjacent to 1515 Idaho St. to accommodate the deepening of an existing groundwater monitoring well.
• Review a five-year capital improvement plan.
• Approve Resolution No. 4-14 to donate approximately 42 sports field lights to the Elko County Fair Board.
• Approve Resolution No. 5-14 for the Elko city general elections to be held Nov. 4, 2014.
• Approve Resolution No. 6-14 concerning the financing of building projects for public safety facilities.
• Issue a regular package beer/wine license to Isabelle Belsher and The Avenue at 2078 Idaho St.
• Add a catering liquor license to an existing license for Stockmen’s Hotel and Casino.
• Consider a request from Jon Bailey for reimbursement of the Autumn Colors subdivision offsite improvements through connection fee credits.
• Present second reading of Ordinance No. 779, which allows temporary emergency shelters within general commercial, light industrial and general industrial zones.