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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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FAA unmanned aircraft expert named FTC director at NMSU

The Physical Science Laboratory of New Mexico State University has named Bruce Tarbert as director of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Test Center. Tarbert recently retired from the FAA with more than 32 years of experience in the aviation industry.


As the national airspace integration lead in the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Program Office, Tarbert was responsible for policy development as well as oversight for systems safety for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Recently, he served as the FAA's co-chair of the Small UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee and was the FAA's focal point for proposed regulatory changes to enable small unmanned aircraft operations in the national airspace.

NMSU's UAS Flight Test Center is the country's only test center authorized by the FAA specifically for unmanned aircraft flight testing.

"Unmanned aircraft technology has grown significantly in just the past few years," Tarbert said. "I believe NMSU's Flight Test Center is poised to become a true national resource for unmanned aircraft flight testing, and I'm very pleased to be a part of the UAS team here."

Tarbert began his career in the FAA as an air traffic control specialist in the U.S. Virgin Islands before accepting progressively responsible positions within the FAA, serving in various capacities involving traffic flow management, advanced area navigation and required navigation performance, as well as within the Aircraft Certification Service. Eventually he focused his efforts on safely integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace.

"Although UA represent a very exciting new technology for performing various missions, it's critical that unmanned aircraft are safely integrated into our national airspace," Tarbert said. "The Flight Test Center is one of the nation's first steps toward integrating manned and unmanned aircraft in the national airspace. This important new technology can never reach its true potential until we prove that manned and unmanned aircraft can safely share the same airspace."

Tarbert has received numerous professional awards from a number of aviation-related groups, including the Air Transport Association, National Business Aviation Association, Air Line Pilots Association, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.