Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




In an effort to integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system, congress mandated action by the Federal Aviation Administration under the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. It required the formation of six test sites that would conduct unmanned aircraft operations in an effort to assist the FAA in its task to form safety regulations regarding unmanned aircraft. The FAA has been heavily criticized for its slow movement and inability to meet deadlines. The purpose of this study is to gather perceptions of the FAA’s unmanned aircraft systems test site program. Using a qualitative approach, interviews were conducted with some of the test sites to gain insight of the current status of the test site program after its first year. This study provides information on what otherwise is a very limited researched area, and discovers the complexity of the test site program including the advancements made and the difficult system in which it operates. As a result, themes emerged including lack of support from the FAA, confusion of test sites roles, and the uncertain future of the test site program.