FAA seeks sites to test drones, other civilian craft sharing airspace

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to find six places to test drones — unmanned aircraft systems — like the ones the Air Force flies routinely over Afghanistan and at Creech Air Force Base, except with no laser-guided missiles.

These and other drones would be used by civilians sharing airspace with commercial and private aircraft.

“Unmanned aircraft can help us meet a number of challenges, from spotting wildfires to assessing natural disasters,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, said in a news release last week announcing a 60-day public comment period for the idea.

This year’s FAA reauthorization bill mandates that the FAA establish sites to test the safety of commingling piloted and remotely-piloted aircraft.

Feedback will help the FAA develop requirements for the test locations and set standards and oversight parameters.

The pilot program calls for designating airspace for operating both manned and unmanned flight operations in context of the “next generation air transportation system.”

“The FAA has a proven track record of safely introducing new technology and aircraft into the (national airspace system,) and I am confident we will successfully meet the challenges posed by unmanned aircraft system technology,” FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta said.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

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