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a drone flying over tulsa
The Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education launches its first flight from the new urban drone port at The Helmerich Research Center on the OSU-Tulsa campus, Dec. 6, 2023.

Service agreement creates new opportunities for drone research, startup development in northeast Oklahoma

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 |

OAIRE selects uAvionix as primary systems integrator for Skyway Range in Tulsa area

The Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE) has entered into a partnership with uAvionix that will enable uncrewed Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations at Skyway Range.  

A leading provider of avionics solutions and infrastructure services for uncrewed and crewed aircraft, uAvionix will play a key role in developing the Skyway Range in Oklahoma — a flight test facility that connects the Osage Nation and its enterprises’ Skyway36 Droneport in Tulsa, Oklahoma State University’s Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station near Stillwater and two additional nodes in the region.

The company will deploy a centrally managed Command and Control (C2) and Detect and Avoid (DAA) system across multiple nodes and provide system integration services to the OAIRE team. 

Each node will consist of detect-and-avoid and unmanned traffic management systems including radar, surveillance broadcast receivers, cameras, radios and aviation weather monitoring systems to produce full coverage of aviation traffic in the area to maintain airspace safety.

“The uAvionix team is excited to engage with OAIRE and partners on the deployment of this range near Tulsa, Oklahoma,” said Christian Ramsey, managing director for uAvionix. “Through our shared vision with OAIRE and our experience with uncrewed avionics, operations and aviation networks, we are confident this will become a very successful partnership.” 

Dr. Jamey Jacob, OAIRE executive director, said uAvionix is a welcome addition to the fast-growing ecosystem of Unmanned Aerial System research and tech development in northeast Oklahoma. 

This summer, OSU partnered with Tulsa Innovation Labs to create the LaunchPad Center for Advanced Air Mobility at OSU-Tulsa’s Helmerich Research Center and the Skyway Range, which includes the Osage Nation as a partner. That facility is now fully operational, and the Skyway Range is well positioned to have a significant economic impact on the Tulsa region, catalyzing job creation, supporting Oklahoma entrepreneurs and attracting high-tech new businesses. 

OSU leads two of four projects under the new Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility (TRAM) Cluster, which received $38.2 million in funding from the Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge. These include the LaunchPad Center and the Skyway Range, the latter of which this effort will enable.

“This partnership will help us expand opportunities, both for established companies and visionary startups. Oklahoma has a lot of room to grow in this space — literally and figuratively. We want to use this as a stepping stone to expand testing capacity and opportunities across the state as part of OSU’s land-grant mission to serve the state,” Jacob said. 

As part of Tulsa’s historic Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant award, OSU, Osage LLC and Tulsa Innovation Labs are developing a flight test capability for advanced air mobility (AAM) that will allow for the testing and evaluation of AAM technologies — autonomous systems for unmanned vehicles with the intention of eventual cargo or passenger transport — as well as remotely operated extended BVLOS aviation. 

It will connect the OSU Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station — currently OAIRE’S primary UAS flight test facility — with the Osage Nation Skyway36 Droneport and eventually link to downtown Tulsa. This corridor will be unique in both its breadth but also in its proximity to an urban center. 

“Tulsa Innovation Labs and our partners are committed to securing Tulsa’s position as the nation’s leading hub for UAS innovation,” said Daniel Plaisance, Tulsa Innovation Labs advanced air mobility portfolio manager. “Skyway Range is central to this vision. This collaboration is an important milestone in creating unparalleled testing facilities to complement our top-tier workforce, engaged investors and growing startup ecosystem.”

“Unmanned aerial systems have the potential to unlock a revolution in the transportation and logistics industry in this country. Much of the groundbreaking research and technologies are being developed and tested locally here in Oklahoma through strategic partnerships with TIL, OSU and Osage LLC that will be used across the country and beyond,” said Osage LLC project manager Berbon Hamilton. “The announcement today that Skyway Range will be adding uAvionix software as the C2 and DAA represents another milestone towards achieving this potential. Osage LLC is proud to be a part of this team advancing our nation's airborne capabilities just as Major General Clarence Tinker, an Osage tribal member, chartered aviation advances over 100 years ago.”

OAIRE operates under the umbrella of The Innovation Foundation at OSU, which is focused on advancing new discoveries, commercialization, technology transfers and partnerships. Elizabeth Pollard, CEO of The Innovation Foundation at OSU and president of Cowboy Technologies, said the flexibility of the corridor concept is adaptive to changes in regulation and will serve as a reliable proving ground for technological breakthroughs and applications. 

“Fueling innovation at the crossroads of academia and industry, Oklahoma State University embraces technology commercialization as a catalyst for progress,” Pollard said. “Transforming groundbreaking research into real-world solutions, not only shapes the future but also strengthens the bonds between knowledge and application, paving the way for a brighter tomorrow.” 

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