UAV Flights Concern Oregon Pilots

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Local pilots are concerned that a proposal to test drones in a central Oregon military operations area will effectively close that airspace to private aircraft, but proponents say the concerns are overblown. The pilots say the MOA falls along a popular route between Bend and points in Idaho, and is also used by AirLink Critical Care Transport air ambulance service. Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), the group supporting the proposal, says complexities brought forward during introduction of the proposal may have led some to misinterpret the group's intent. Unmanned aircraft are currently prohibited from flying in the area and similar testing is usually contained within restricted airspace. EDCO says that while it does want use of the airspace, it plans to consider the pilots' concerns.

So far, EDCO says that the public response has delivered feedback that will improve a future version of the proposal. The chairman of EDCO, Collins Hemingway, has said that going forward, "We're just going to say, 'This is what we want to do, figure out how to make it work,'" according to local news service, KVAL. Pilots are seeking to avoid the need for significant deviations, longer flight times, higher fuel burns and general inconvenience.