FAA Announces UAS Test Sites

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Six test sites have been selected by the FAA for working toward the integration of unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace. The six sites "achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs," the agency said on Monday. The sites, in Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, New York, and Virginia, will help to meet the FAA's research goals, which it has defined as system safety, command and control link issues, control station layout and certification, sense and avoid capabilities both on the ground and in the air, environmental impacts, and aircraft certification. The FAA said it also will establish rules to protect privacy as well as ensure safe operations. The testing will continue until at least February 2017.

The announcement was welcomed by Michael Toscano, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. "In designating the first UAS test sites, the FAA has taken an important step toward recognizing the incredible economic and job creation potential this technology brings," he said. "AUVSI's economic report projects that the expansion of UAS technology will create more than 100,000 jobs nationwide and generate more than $82 billion in economic impact in the first decade following integration."