It's all about the drones

SUBHEAD: It's the military/industrial drone program coming to Hawaii that is driving separation of Kauai and Niihau.

By Juan Wilson on 11 February 2014 for Island Breath -
Image above: Mashup by Juan Wilson of drone over the Apu ahapuaa in the Koolau moku of northeast Niihau. Click to embiggen.

The ugly shape in the darkness is revealing itself as people turn their attention to recent news concerning Niihau.

It would seem there has been a stealthy program to beef up the military presence here in Kauai County - specifically to add Niihau to the area controlled through the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF). The PMRF already has rights on 6,000 acres of the Mana Plain through leases with the DLNR and non-exclusive easement arrangements. Moreover, beyond Kauai they "coordinate" one million square miles of range in the Pacific Ocean.

The issue is not about picking opihi, or nearshore fishing rights, or private property rights, or Aha Moku konhiki responsibilities, or Hawaiian cultural values, or increasing  PMRF basesecurity, or separating Niihau from Kauai County.

This is about a play by the federal government to orchestrate the inclusion of Niihau as a part of US military operations here. Stakeholders in the drama (wittingly or unwittingly)  include the US Department of Defense, US Navy, PMRF, several military contractors, Governor Abercrombie, members of the Hawaii legislature, the DLNR, Aha Moku Council, and some Hawaiian cultural practitioners.

Just remember, every other even numbered year is another RIMPAC exercise, and this year is RIMPAC 2014. There are some saying the channel between Kauai and Niihau is similar to the space at the Straights of Hormuz that separates the Arab Gulf States from Iran, ans here the bulk of Middle East oil must pass to reach the world - What better simulation area for practicing WWIII?

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Two bills to rule Niihau 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Niihau and the US Military 2/7/14
Ea O Ka Aina: End RimPac destruction of Pacific 11/1/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy admits threat to sea mammals 5/12/12
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC to Expand Activities 8/3/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War Games here in July 6/21/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC to return in 2010 5/2/10
Island Breath: RIMPAC blaimed for beaked whale's death 7/29/08
Island Breath: RimPac 2008 7/2/08 
Island Breath: Protection of whales from Navy sonar 6/3/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 Impact 7/9/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC Threatens Kauai Again 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 Strandings 9/2/04

Keeping the islands one

By Chris D'Angelo on 9 February 2014 for the Garden Island -


By now, it is no secret that the Robinson family and a handful of Hawaii legislators have major plans for the “Forbidden Island” of Niihau.

A slew of bills have been introduced this legislative session related to the island — proposals from establishing no-fishing zones and regulating the harvesting of opihi in nearshore coastal waters to making the privately owned piece of land a new, independent county from Kauai.

On Friday, Kauai community members came out in force at Wilcox Elementary School to make it clear that they feel they’re being left out of the discussions.

“This whole bill thing for Niihau just absolutely stinks,” said Don Moses, a 40-year Kauai fisherman.

The crowd of more than 100 was united in its stance.

“They are being rushed through without hearings, which seems very unfair,” Puanani Rogers added of the bills. “What is the rush? Is it because the Robinsons have an ulterior motive?”

Dan Ahuna, the Kauai and Niihau trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said he organized the “listening session” to make sure all Hawaiian beneficiaries are being heard on the matter.

“Two days ago, in one of our OHA Board of Trustee meetings, a procedural vote came up and I was put in a situation to support a vote to write a letter to the governor and support this bill for (banning fishing) three miles out,” he said. “But it is important for me to be here to listen to you and your comments.”

While he feels he has been put in an “unfortunate situation,” Ahuna said he wants to move forward with open dialogue.

In attendance Friday was Rep. Faye Hanohano, who introduced the House version of a bill that would have established a two-mile no-fishing zone around the island. That bill was ultimately deferred and Hanohano has since introduced a short form bill, SB 709, that would make appropriations to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to conduct public outreach meetings to adopt rules for statewide coastal management.

“The problem is not only on Kauai and Niihau,” she said.

Rep. Dee Morikawa, who was also in attendance, said Hanohano’s bill is a compromise.

“Her bill is what brings everybody to the table,” she said. “So that’s what we want you to know. It’s not getting shoved down your throat. If we can get her bill passed, we can get everybody on the table to figure out what we’re going to do about this.”

More than a dozen people took the opportunity to voice their feelings. One resounding message was that Kauai and Niihau are one and should not be separated — neither as counties nor fishing areas.

Westside fisherman Greg Holtzman described the two islands as “brother and sister,” and a relationship the state clearly doesn’t understand.

Before any decisions are made in regard to Niihau, Rogers said there needs to be many more community discussions.

“In my eyes, Niihau and Kauai are not separated,” she said. “We are one. We share the same ocean, we share the resources, we share ohana.”

The concerns voiced during the meeting varied greatly. Some said the bills are nothing more than the Robinson family trying to further privatize their already private island. Others said they are worried that the Niihau people are having their voices suppressed.

As for bringing everyone to the table, many questioned why the Robinsons didn’t attend the meeting. Shane Cobb Adams, however, said it’s not the Robinsons that should be included, but the people of Niihau.

“The people on Niihau have rights, and nobody’s asking them what they want,” he said.

If passed, SB 172 would make the island of Niihau a separate county under the control of the DLNR.

Mel Wills, operations manager at Holoholo Charters, said his concerns with the recent proposals vary greatly. One concern is that the DLNR, which issues his company boating permits, has been unable to enforce the law when it comes to illegal boaters.

While against fishing bans and the separation of counties, many in the audience seemed to be on board for Hanohano’s bill to appropriate money to the DLNR to study the issue.

Moses said it is time for fishermen and other interested parties on Kauai to organize and fight together so that the end result is a win-win for everyone, not just the Robinson family.

“We have to be one voice, one group that represents a lot of people that vote because that’s the only people they listen to,” he said of legislators.

Last to share his thoughts was Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who expressed his disappointment with the flurry of bills, particularly the last-minute one to separate Niihau from Kauai.

“What’s up with that?” he asked. “We are the county of Kauai and Niihau, Niihau and Kauai.”

Carvalho added that fishing is everyone’s right and that Friday’s discussion was overdue.

“We got to be able to talk,” he said.

Responsive to local "stakeholders"

SUBHEAD:  The FAA expects that public entities will be "responsive" to stakeholder concerns.

By Lyn McNutt on 10 February 2014 in Island Breath -

Regarding the situation on the ground needed for FAA approval of US Drone Test Sites:

BINGO!  Here is the notice in the federal register (

Second, the FAA believes that Test Sites operators will be responsive to local stakeholders’ privacy concerns and will develop privacy policies appropriately tailored to each Test Site. The selection criteria for the Test Sites specify that only a ‘‘public entity’’ can serve as a Test Site operator. The term ‘‘public entity’’ is defined in the selection criteria to mean
(A) any State or local government;

(B) any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a State or States or local government;

(C) the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and any commuter authority.
 The FAA expects that public entities will be "responsive" to stakeholder concerns.

Hawaii offers exceptional opportunities 

SOURCE: Lyn McNutt (
SUBHEAD: Alaska among six sites selected by FAA for cutting-edge drone research.

By Mary Kauffman on 30 December 2014 for Sit News -

The "drones" are coming to Alaska (and Hawaii) - research that is. The University of Alaska will serve as one of six official Federal Aviation Administration unmanned aircraft system test sites, the federal agency announced today.

According to the FAA, the University of Alaska's proposal was chosen making Alaska one of the six test sites joining Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia as testing grounds for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The Alaska-led team includes state agencies and companies in Oregon and Hawaii who joined Alaska's effort. In total, 58 companies and companies are part of the Alaska-led effort, according to ACUASI's Greg Walker of the University of Alaska.

“The University is both honored and challenged with this selection,” Ro Bailey, Deputy Director, Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems at University of Alaska Fairbanks, said. “The benefits for the state, for its citizens, for business and technology, and for the nation are exciting and potentially very dramatic.”

“The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ reputation as an experienced, safe and savvy operator using a variety of UAS types in diverse missions and locations all over the globe undoubtedly played a major part in our selection,” said Ro Bailey, deputy director of ACUASI and the intended Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex director.

“Alaska, Oregon and Hawaii offer exceptional climatic and geographic diversity, lightly populated airspace and overwater test opportunities that can support the majority of FAA needs.”

The Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex will be managed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the test site will build on the ongoing work of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, which is part of the UAF Geophysical Institute. Operations of the test range complex are slated to begin in mid-2014.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today the selection of the six public entities that will develop unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test sites around the country. These congressionally-mandated test sites will conduct critical research into the certification and operational requirements necessary to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace over the next several years.

Today, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) perform border and port surveillance, help with scientific research and environmental monitoring, support public safety by law enforcement agencies, help state universities conduct research, and support various other missions for government entities.

In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs.

Across the six applicants, the FAA stated in a press release it is confident that the agency’s research goals of System Safety & Data Gathering, Aircraft Certification, Command & Control Link Issues, Control Station Layout & Certification, Ground & Airborne Sense & Avoid, and Environmental Impacts will be met.

“These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The FAA’s role in the UAS program is to help the test site operators set up a safe testing environment and to provide oversight that ensures the sites operate under strict safety standards.

“Safety continues to be our first priority as we move forward with integrating unmanned aircraft systems into U.S. airspace,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We have successfully brought new technology into the nation’s aviation system for more than 50 years, and I have no doubt we will do the same with unmanned aircraft.”

The FAA has established requirements for each test site that will help protect privacy. The requirements were developed with public input and the final requirements were published on November 14, 2013 in the Federal Register. This followed the February Federal Register notice that asked for public comments on the draft privacy requirements for the six test site operators. Among other requirements, test site operators will be required to comply with federal, state, and other laws protecting an individual’s right to privacy; have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention; and conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment.

Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell welcomed the announcement that the Federal Aviation Administration chose Alaska as one of six states to be a test bed to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or remotely piloted aircraft into civil airspace.

Treadwell is chair of the Aerospace States Association, which has advocated for the FAA's test bed program, and has helped Alaska and other states address privacy and constitutional issues related to UAVs.

"UAVs can help save lives, and promote scientific research and resource development here in Alaska," Treadwell said. "An unmanned vehicle can fly through volcanic ash clouds and into forest fires where it is not safe to send humans. They can provide observational warnings about marine mammals approaching offshore oil and gas fields. In a state as vast as Alaska, UAVs can give us information on what's happening with weather, climate, and other conditions in remote parts of our state.

"Safety and maintaining individual privacy continue to be our priority, and we're working to ensure they are never compromised," Treadwell said. "Alaska was a test bed for the next generation of air traffic control being adopted across the country. The FAA has learned Alaska airspace is a good place to advance safety for the nation."

Lt. Gov. Treadwell said many individuals and groups came together to support the Alaska proposal, made by the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute's Alaska Center for Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration (ACUASI). An Alaska UAS Interest Group, organized by the State of Alaska, the U.S. Department of the Interior in Alaska, the FAA and the University, has hosted an annual workshop for the last seven years to help prepare for the new technology here.

U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) also welcomed the announcement that Alaska was chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration as one of the test sites.

“I fought hard to include funding for this research in the FAA bill because this kind of cutting-edge research will bring jobs, resources and a new mission to the University of Alaska system,” Begich said. “This new initiative will help lay the foundation for other new economic activity in Alaska and put our state on the world map when it comes to this exciting emerging technology.”

For years Begich has argued that Alaska is perfectly positioned for such research and development, given the state’s enormous airspace and challenging weather and temperature conditions.

Representative Shelley Hughes, who co-chairs the State House legislative task force for unmanned aircraft systems, congratulated the University of Alaska Fairbanks for being selected and pointed out the timeliness of the task force’s work.

“Our members have diligently been reviewing the state’s responsibility regarding privacy concerns, and we’ll be bringing forward recommendations to the legislature to provide a safeguard to the public,” Hughes said. “Alaska continues to be a leader in aviation, and this is the next wave. It makes sense to use UAS for the dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks.”

A brief description of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future UAS use are below:

University of Alaska. The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations.

State of Nevada. Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen. Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport. Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.

North Dakota Department of Commerce. North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota’s application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.

Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.

On November 7,2013, the FAA released its first annual Roadmap outlining efforts needed to safely integrate UAS into the nation’s airspace system. The Roadmap addresses current and future policies, regulations, technologies and procedures that will be required as demand moves the country from today’s limited accommodation of UAS operations to the extensive future integration of UAS into the NextGen aviation system.
As required in the 2012 FAA Reauthorization, the Joint Planning and Development Office has developed a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil UAS into the national airspace system. That plan details a multi-agency approach to safe and timely UAS integration and coordination with the NextGen shift to satellite-based technologies and new procedures.

On the Web:

FAA's first annual Roadmap

Joint Planning and Development Office developed a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil UAS into the national airspace system, for more information...

Source of News:

Federal Aviation Admin. (FAA)

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell

U.S. Senator Mark Begich

Alaska House Majority Caucus

University of Alaska Fairbanks


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