Wings Magazine

U.S. to test UAVs at six sites to study civilian uses

Dec. 31, 2013, Las Vegas, Nv. - The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft’s march into U.S. skies.

December 31, 2013  By The Associated Press

The agency said Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia as states that will host research sites.


Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments,
businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many
universities are starting or expanding drone programs.



“These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to
ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our
nation’s skies,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a

The FAA said when selecting the sites it considered geography,
climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace
use, aviation experience and risk.


In the case of Alaska, the FAA cited a diverse set of test site range
locations in seven climatic zones. New York’s site at Griffiss
International Airport will look into integrating drones into the
congested northeast airspace.


The state of North Dakota already has committed $5 million to the
venture and named a former state Air National Guard Commander as its
test site director.


The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to
develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015, although officials
concede the project may take longer than expected. The FAA projects some
7,500 commercial drones could be aloft within five years of getting
widespread access to American airspace.


An industry-commissioned study last spring predicted more than 70,000
jobs would develop in the first three years after Congress loosens
restrictions on U.S. skies. The same study projects an average salary
range for a drone pilot between $85,000 and $115,000.


“Safety continues to be our first priority as we move forward with
integrating unmanned systems into U.S. airspace,” FAA Administrator
Michael Huerta said in a statement. “We have successfully brought new
technology into the nation’s aviation system for more than 50 years, and
I have no doubt we will do the same with unmanned aircraft.”


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