The ever-expanding use of drones and the frightening possibilities thereof are only exacerbated by statements from insiders telling citizens that they have nothing to worry about. At a recent convention of drone manufacturers, the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Michael Huerta, said that his department is working tirelessly to “fully integrate” drones into the wider world of civil aviation. This synthesis, Huerta insists, should be accomplished within three years and will bring with it great strides in the federal government’s commitment to guard our nation from threats to our security.
In his address to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference held in Las Vegas earlier this month, Huerta admitted that “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to move integration for all UAS [Unmanned Aircraft Systems] forward," but added that he is “very, very optimistic that we will get there.”
As we have reported, the FAA has issued numerous licenses for the domestic use of small drones (under 55 pounds) beginning in 2014 with the deployment of larger vehicles scheduled for 2015. Congress has tasked the Federal Aviation Administration with drafting a plan for drones to be deployed domestically by September 2015, and believe it or not, several states are competing to become one of six locations to help implement that plan.
Witness this story from USA Today: "The skies over Florida will look dramatically different in the years to come," Space Florida President Frank DiBello told a gathering of aerospace professionals this month. The agency's board recently approved spending up to $1.4 million to try to win designation as one of six test ranges across the country that Congress has directed the FAA to name by the end of the year. The FAA anticipates that about 10,000 unmanned aircraft will be patrolling over cities and towns in the United States within five years. In his keynote address, Huerta reported that the FAA is “very close to choosing” the sites that will serve as the test locations for the safe deployment of drones nationwide.
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Photo: Controllers working for Customs and Border Protection monitor drone aircraft.