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Deployment of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Texas under an Emergency Certificate of Authorization



Alexander Maranghides, Mike Hennig, Gene Robinson, Karen Jackson


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has invested in the development of instrument packages and measurement science to enable the successful scientific use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the wildlands and at the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). The UAVs enable the development of reliable fire behavior prediction tools and the evaluation of hazard mitigation solutions such as fuel treatments in the wildlands or the hardening of structures within the community. On Wednesday, 10 September 2014 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted an Emergency Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (E-COA) to the NIST of Gaithersburg, MD in order to utilize an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in the search for a woman missing near Dallas, Texas. The FAA granted the Emergency COA in less than 24 hours. This would be the first event where the FAA has granted permission for NIST UAV to be flown for purposes other than fire research. The primary objectives of this work were to conduct UAV operations providing high-resolution digital still imagery for the Plano Texas Police Department, in support of an active search and recovery operation for a missing person. The MLB Superbat is a small UAV that can operate autonomously, and deliver high resolution still and video imagery. Preset flight pattern allow for detailed photographic documentation for the area of interest. The paper focuses on the coordination and field operations timeline of personnel involved in the deployment.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 8033
Report Number


search and recovery, UAV, Plano Texas Police Department, COA, WUI, MLB Superbat


Maranghides, A. , , M. , , G. and Jackson, K. (2014), Deployment of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Texas under an Emergency Certificate of Authorization, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 15, 2024)


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Created December 5, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018