New unmanned aircraft systems training building set for Rifle Garfield County Airport

Center of Excellence for Advanced Aerial Firefighting (CoE) to operate test facility

May 16, 2019

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – A new facility designed to house small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and a flight qualification course is coming to the Rifle Garfield County Airport. The Board of County Commissioners approved a $331,450 contract with Kuersten Construction, LLC, for construction of the building.

The Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting (CoE) will proctor the drone training in the building. The CoE, which is part of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, currently leases space at the airport from the county, and the new structure will be incorporated into the existing lease.

Pilots in the region may use the facility to obtain their Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Standard Test Methods certificates.

The small UASs will be flown inside the roughly 7,000-square-foot facility, which will measure 70 feet long and 100 feet wide, and 45 feet tall. The flight qualification course is used to test public safety drone pilots on basic operating skills. The structure will consist of a fabric cover over a metal frame, allowing remote signals to pass into the building.

By keeping the UAS flights indoors, the CoE can provide year-around remote pilot evaluations for the region, regardless of weather conditions outside.

“The Colorado Department of Public Safety is committed to professional small UAS operations and this facility, the first of its kind in the state, supports that mission,” said Ben Miller, director of the Center of Excellence. “We appreciate the partnership that Garfield County continues to provide.”

An open house is being scheduled to highlight the facility and work by the CoE after construction is complete later this year.

“We’re looking forward to having the small UAS facility at the airport,” said Airport Director Brian Condie.

The approval of the contract passed unanimously, 3-0.

Rifle Garfield County Airport-|