UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: FAA Picks Six Test Sites to Integrate Drones into U.S. Airspace

December 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm Leave a comment

A Good Start

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees private and commercial aircraft operations, has chosen six sites to test the best ways for introducing unmanned aircraft into the crowded National Airspace.

27130-selected-uas-test-site-operators-large

The sites are located in six states: Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Virginia and Texas. The entities – three universities, an aiport and two state governments were all picked for their climate, research facilities and air traffic conditions. “In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs,” the FAA said.

Congress has ordered the FAA to develop a program for the safe introduction of commercial unmanned aircraft, usually known as unmanned aircraft systems or UAS – although most people call them drones – into the already crowded National Airspace System by 2015.

Currently only government, industrial and academic UAV operators are allowed to fly them in highly restricted air zones — mostly for research — once they have received a certificate of authorization (COA). The COAs limit when and where they can fly their drones. Hobbyists may fly a small UAS no higher than 300 feet above ground and must always maintain visual contact with the drone. No commercial drone activity is allowed at this time although proponents say they would be useful for monitoring traffic during a mass evacuation, crops and livestock, wild animal migration, forest fires, oil and gas pipelines, Arctic sea ice and emergency response operations.

As we noted in November, the FAA has issued its initial plans, or roadmap, for integrating UAS into U.S. skies, but the process is expected to take 15 years.

UAS supporters worry that the outrage raised by U.S. drone strikes against militants and terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere — that have led to civilian casualties — has made the American public leery of drones flying overhead. There is also concern about privacy and other civil rights being violated by a camera-equipped UAS flown by law enforcement or intelligence agencies. That worry is largely driven by last summer’s revelations of covert cell phone and email meta data gathering by the National Security Agency.

So the Aerospace States Association, the American Civil Liberties Association and other groups have developed suggested guidelines for state laws concerning drones that will protect civil liberties without pulling the plug on an industry with the potential  to create thousands of jobs and add billions of dollars to the national economy.

AUVSI Unmanned Vehicles 2013 conference. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

AUVSI Unmanned Vehicles 2013 conference.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

And the companies that provide services ranging from translators to aircraft for humanitarian aid and relief  organizations are exploring how UAS might help them with security and finding refugees or survivors of natural and man-made disasters in undeveloped countries, according to the programs and operations director of the International Stability Operations Association.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Aircraft, Disaster Relief, News Developments, Peacekeeping, Technology, Unmanned Aircraft, Unmanned Systems, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (December 27, 2013) FRIDAY FOTO (January 3, 2014)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Posts

December 2013
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Jan »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Categories


%d bloggers like this: