The mayor of Moriarty said he is concerned about the city being left out of the loop in an effort to find a new owner of the airport hangar that was to have housed Google’s fleet of solar-powered drones.
Moriarty Mayor Ted Hart said at the end of a recent council meeting that he was upset to have just learned that Google put its Titan Aerospace hangar at the Moriarty Municipal Airport on the real estate market without discussing it with any city or airport official.
Last year, Google announced it had changed its mind about using the 60,000-square-foot airport hangar built at the Moriarty airport to develop an alternative method for delivering broadband, wireless Internet service using solar-powered drones. Google paid the state $995,000 to make up for a grant used to upgrade infrastructure at the airport.
But Hart said the state was not the only partner in making the airport ready for Titan. Federal Aviation Administration grants were also used at the airport, he said, and FAA regulations have tight restrictions for what can be flown out of the airport.
“The FAA has very specific uses that it will or won’t allow,” Hart said.
Even though Google owns the large hangar, Hart said the city still owns the land it sits on and was worried if the hangar would be shown to potential buyers using standard safety and security procedures.
When Google acquired Titan Aerospace in 2014, the state offered incentives to keep Titan operations at the airport where the New Mexico-based company had been testing its solar-powered drone for two years prior to the Google acquisition. Titan’s large, high-flying and lightweight drones caught the eye of Google that is competing with Facebook to provide greater Internet access using unmanned aircraft rather than orbiting satellites.