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FAA To Kick Off State Drone ‘Competition’

Home - by - February 16, 2013 - 08:00 America/New_York - 4 Comments

(CNSNews.com) – States will soon compete to operate six unmanned aircraft test sites, commonly known as drones, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Wednesday.

The FAA wants states to compete for the drone test sites, which were mandated by Congress last year in the 2012 FAA Reauthorization bill.  The sites will test the safety of drones before they are introduced into the National Airspace System by 2015.

“When will the test site selection begin? I’m sure all of you are asking that,” said Jim Williams, director of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office.

“And the answer is, we’re getting closer every day, very close as a matter of fact,” he said.

Williams said the agency will release the Screening Information Request, which will allow the FAA to proceed with the program, before March.

At least two dozen states are vying to host one of the six drone testing sites, which could reap hundreds of jobs and attract investments.

“The local payoff could be substantial,” wrote the Springfield News-Sunin Ohio, one state interested in participating in the program.  “Host states could attract jobs and millions of dollars in business investment.”

“The six sites would burnish their national credentials as go-to centers for unmanned aircraft expertise,” the paper said.

The test sites will create certification standards and air traffic requirements for drones and designate airspace for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) within the national airspace system.

“Unmanned aircraft can help us meet a number of challenges, from spotting wildfires to assessing natural disasters,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last year. “But these test sites will help us ensure that our high safety standards are maintained as the use of these aircraft becomes more widespread.”

As CNSNews.com previously reported, the FAA has already authorized 106 federal, state and local government  “entities” to fly drones within U.S. airspace.

The FAA’s long-term goal is to permit drones to operate in U.S. airspace “to the greatest extent possible,” according to congressional testimony presented by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The proliferation of domestic drones, which can fly beyond line of sight and up to 2,000 feet, however raises numerous privacy concerns due to their surveillance capability.

“Concerns include the potential for increased amounts of governmental surveillance using technologies placed on UAS as well as collection and use of such data,” said Gerald L. Dillingham, GAO’s director of Physical Infrastructure Issues, before the House Homeland Subcommittee last year.  “Surveillance by federal agencies using UAS must take into account associated constitutional Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

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» 4 Comments

  1. Dr. Tar

    February 16th, 2013

    The first entry will be Obama’s SOTU address. Second entry will Jay Carney’s daily briefing to the WH press. Third entry will be the transcripts from Hildibeast’s hearing before Congress on Benghazi. Not her though, but the lick spittle Democrats in both houses that fell all over themselves giving her Huzzahs!

    Wait, wrong kind of drone you say? Oh, never mind then.

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  2. Lowell

    February 16th, 2013

    Thinking about creating a competition of my own. Amongst the geeks like me.

    Third place, steer the UAV into a lake.

    Second place, make it land where you want it to and abscond with the thing.

    First place, fly it into the Command and Control facility.

    You may understand the results of the competition will NOT be posted on the internet, sorry about that.

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  3. One Notch Above a Congresscritter

    February 16th, 2013

    All these states whoring theirselves out while they should be telling the FAA to go fuck a rolling donut.

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  4. The Doktor

    February 16th, 2013

    Here’s a great competition. Let’s see how many Americans can SHOOT those mofos DOWN!

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