Unmanned aerial systems company to start testing aircraft in Wise

Aurora Flight Sciences has announced it will expand operational testing of its Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft at Wise County’s Lonesome Pine Airport.

The company is hoping to help make Virginia a leader in the unmanned aerial systems industry and establish Wise County as a UAS research, development, and operational hub. Some of the jobs already targeted for the Centaur OPA while based out of Lonesome Pine would include mapping and surveying, predicting and detecting forest fires, performing large area inspections on roads, railroads, power lines and waterways, minerals and vegetation mapping, and conducting emergency-management operations.

Program director Jeff Harlan says, "Wise County would be a great place to expand our capabilities and create jobs."

Flight operations are expected to begin early next year.

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