ArgenTech Solutions, a company that trains businesses and government agencies on how to operate drones will be setting up shop at the Concord Municipal Airport. They will help determine how unmanned aerial vehicles can operate alongside piloted aircraft. If the plan goes through, this could be the first operation of its kind in America.
ArgenTech Solutions is a 9 year-old tech firm based in Newmarket that provides services home and abroad. It has obtained permission from the town council to rent a hangar for use in docking and storing drones and also as a training facility. Drones are an emerging technology and the company wants to be in the front, noted David Rolla, who oversees the airport for Concord Aviation Systems.
According to minutes of a meeting held in November with the Concord Airport Advisory Committee, the company wants to create a training program at the airport to train professional pilots, military or commercial operators. ArgenTech declined to provide details of its plans or deadline beyond this announcement. They explained that they are in the development stages of the program, which will offer commercial drones services and specialist training opportunities to public safety entities as well as to companies interested in entering into the drone marketplace.
The focus of these services and training is the secure integration of drones into the National Airspace System and innovative aeronautical training for drone polots. Jim Cloutier, owner of a drone photography company and trainer at UNH (drone-operator certification program) stated that if anyone knows how to create a training area at the airport, it’s ArgenTech.
Carol Niewola, a senior aviation planner with the state Department of Transportation, said that the FAA is planning to organize a program with waivers just like the one that ArgenTech is starting. This is because many organizations are currently interested in installing drone stations in or around airports. While no operation such as this exists in New Hampshire, Niewola said the proposal did not surprise her.
ArgenTech not only trains drone operators but helps build drones and equipment. The firm’s website claims that since 2011 it’s provided 60,000 hours of frontline field services to the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as drone-based imaging to markets as diverse as agriculture, electronic mapping, and petroleum and natural gas.
But mixing drones and airports isn’t as simple because of security concerns. Under FAA regulations, recreational drone operators must alert the airport when they plan to fly within 5 miles of the facility. We’ll definitely keep an eye out on ArgenTech’s progress in the next few months.