COA - CERTIFICATES OF AUTHORIZATION/CERTIFICATES OF AIRWORTHINESS
COA primarily stands for "Certificate of Authorization". It's granted by the FAA for specific drone testing sites, such as the ones that the NextGen Air Transportation group is operating. According to the drone moratorium language in the 2013 budget (S.L. 2013-360) the State Chief Information Officer (SCIO) has to approve a waiver for each application before they are sent off to the FAA.
COA can also stand for "Certificate of Airworthiness" which is assigned to specific types of unmanned aircraft. But we don't know for sure if any of the waivers granted by the SCIO have been for specific aircraft. That would be very useful to know. We do know from the FOIA emails that the NGAT team was preparing COAs for certain military drones to be included in the testing.
The best question to ask of our legislators is - In the interest of transparency, will you release all the info regarding testing of drones in NC, including all COA applications (Certificates of Authorization and/or Certificates of Airworthiness), future planned drone testing locations, etc.?
The COA applications are filed with, reviewed, and granted or denied by the FAA. So the COAs are federal documents, but under NC state law, they have to be pre-approved by the SCIO. That makes them state documents as well.
It would be worthwhile to see all the applications in their specifics - not just general site locations as they have already released.
All of these sites are operating near or within certain "local governments." The citizens and elected representatives of those areas have a right to know.