ALIFORNIA, MD – Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) joined officials from the University System of Maryland as they announced the launch of a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Test Site in Southern Maryland, which will bring together leaders in academia, industry, and government to accelerate UAS research. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Good morning. I want to begin by expressing the gratitude all of us feel for Brit Kirwan’s service as Chancellor these past twelve years. He has overseen a period of growth, investment, and a reaffirmation of the University System of Maryland’s core mission to expand and enhance higher education in our state. When he retires later this year, he will be greatly missed by the entire University System and all those who have worked closely with him, as I have been privileged to do, to make it one of the best public universities in the country.
“Part of his legacy will be the University System’s participation in the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and the strengthening of ties to Pax River and UAV development.
“The test site we are unveiling today is part of a regional effort to promote innovation and technology research in a critical field – one that is already playing an important role in our national defense and our economic development.
“Maryland has a long history in the areas of flight research, development, and testing, and drone technologies represent a key part of that industry’s future.
“Unmanned aerial systems are poised to launch what could be nearly a $90 billion economy over the next decade – and this partnership will ensure that Maryland is leading the way.
“I’m proud of the work we have done together to facilitate a significant level of investment over the past few years by the Department of Defense into UAV technology.
“And the same is true for the federal investment I have worked hard to secure for Pax River to conduct state-of-the-art research, testing, and deployment of new defense technologies – many that can be commercialized for civilian uses.
“Bringing Pax River, the University System of Maryland, and our regional partners together will help tap into our shared knowledge base and talent pool in order to expand this technology in our state.
“Moving forward, we must continue to work together as we help the FAA see the full potential in UAV technologies and ensure that our airspace is ready for UAV testing.
“I want to join in welcoming two very special additions to this effort and to our community.
“I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with the leaders of both Aurora Flight Sciences and UAV Solutions – two outstanding companies who have indicated their desire to partner with us and join us on the ground floor of this exciting effort.
“John Langford, the founder, chairman and CEO of Aurora is a pioneer in unmanned aviation and a man with great vision. When we first met in March, he indicated he shared our vision and that he wanted to be a partner and he is true to his word. He is opening an office here and intends to do more in the near future. Get to know him – he is a true leader!
“Billie Anne & Bill Davidson are the owners of UAV Solutions. They have already partnered with us to bid for the FAA designation and they also share in our vision. We want them here also and they have signaled their intent to open an operation here also in the future.
“They join with local companies such as Neany, Compass Systems, Smartronix and CTSi – who are building products in our community. We are proud to be building this segment of our local regional economy.
“When we work together, there are no limits to what we can achieve here in Maryland.
“We may be the ‘Old Line State,’ but it is a straight line into the future that we draw as a result of what we are unveiling here today.