ALPENA (WWJ/AP) – Officials say unmanned aircraft could soon begin flying at a Michigan airport as part of a drone research effort.

The Federal Aviation Administration has agreed to allow the flights at Alpena County Regional Airport. County Commissioner Cam Habermehl said things are in place at the airport for flights to start as soon as possible.

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“We’re basically ready right now,” Habermehl told The Alpena News. “I don’t see any reason we couldn’t begin to fly real soon. This is really big and it has taken a while, but this could be huge for Alpena.”

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Griffiss International Airport, a former Air Force Base in central New York, is teaming with the Northern Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium to develop standards for integrating unmanned systems into national airspace and for civilian use.

Griffiss is aligned with the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of private industry, academic institutions and the military. They’ve been working to operate and manage drone test sites in some other states.

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