The Houma-Terrebonne Airport has received a $1.3 million grant from the federal government to advance its unmanned aviation system.
The airport commission has been working for more than a year to develop the modern aircraft system through public-private partnerships as a way to diversify and support the local economy.
The grant will fund taxiway, access road, ramp and utility improvements for an undeveloped 10-acre parcel at the Houma-Terrebonne Airport, which will establish a Gulf of Mexico Center of Excellence for Large-Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Future improvements will include a new 40,000-square-foot hangar that will house automated navigation systems for unmanned aircraft flying the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas, hurricane reconnaissance, coastal protection, homeland security, research and military missions.
The unmanned aircraft are expected to initially provide new services to the oil and gas industry, eventually expanding into new fields. The airport’s close proximity to the Intracoastal Waterway and access to the Gulf of Mexico has been billed as one of its strongest advantages to develop the new technology.
“We are most excited by this announcement for its potential to provide new value for our oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico and along our coast,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a news release. “Louisiana has long been a leader in subsea technology in the offshore energy industry. Now, we will be at the cutting-edge of aerial technology. By joining our education, government and private-sector partners, we can make Louisiana a true leader in unmanned aircraft technology to tackle many of our biggest challenges in the energy, security and military sectors.”