QinetiQ Australia has been awarded a contract by the Queensland Government to design and construct a dedicated flight test range (FTR) for unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The new range will be located at Cloncurry Aerodrome in North West Queensland, and will include a commercial-quality runway, a dedicated hangar and workshop, and a range control centre with control system including a primary surveillance radar and other surveillance and tracking equipment.
The facility’s initial construction will support all weight classes of unmanned aircraft for routine flying operations, demonstrations, and moderately complex test and evaluation trials. Future phases of development will support the full range of ground and flight test activity, providing an Australian centre for the conduct of highly complex developmental test programs. The test range will have its own dedicated airspace and will be equipped with all necessary regulatory approvals for UAS FTR operations.
Greg Barsby, QinetiQ Australia Managing Director, commented: “The Queensland Government has a vision to be a world leader in UAS technologies, and QinetiQ is proud to support this through the creation of the flight test range facility at Cloncurry. Together with our partners, QinetiQ manages some of the world’s most advanced range facilities across the land, maritime and aerospace domains. By drawing on our global experience, QinetiQ and our partners will deliver this facility, the largest of its kind in the region.”
“The QinetiQ team is looking forward to working with the Queensland Government, Cloncurry Shire Council and regional SMEs to develop this facility. It will be a critical component in the overall drone ecosystem, as an enabler and connector of high-technology UAS programs and initiatives.”
According to Kate Jones, Queensland Minister for State Development, Tourism and Innovation, the project will provide a key missing element for UAS research and development. “The Queensland Government was the first in Australia to launch a drone strategy, and now we’re well on the way to becoming the nation’s drone technology capital.”