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FAA To Test Drones in Virginia

Virginia Tech will head up the effort.

Anthony Distefano, a technician with American Aerospace Advisors Inc., adjusts a 250-pound helicopter. Mechanical engineering student Kenneth Kroeger looks on. (Courtesy of VA Tech)
Anthony Distefano, a technician with American Aerospace Advisors Inc., adjusts a 250-pound helicopter. Mechanical engineering student Kenneth Kroeger looks on. (Courtesy of VA Tech)

By Mary Ann Barton

The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, and Virginia is one of them.

Virginia—along with Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Texas—will host the research sites, providing diverse climates, geography and air traffic environments, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.

Virginia Tech will head the effort in Virginia.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) released this statement today following the FAA selection of Virginia Tech’s proposal to spearhead a regional research effort on  the safest and most effective ways to incorporate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the existing airspace. 

Virginia Tech’s proposal, one of six from across the country selected by the FAA today, includes a cooperative agreement to work with research institutions and facilities across Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.

“We want to congratulate Virginia Tech and its partners for this success. Virginia’s selection provides an opportunity for the mid-Atlantic region to become a major hub for UAS research and testing, leveraging the growing private sector interest in UAS as well as incorporating military and NASA assets across our region. That’s why we have long supported Virginia's selection, and have worked to highlight the strengths of a Virginia-Maryland-New Jersey partnership with the FAA,” Sens. Warner and Kaine said. 

“We hope this FAA research and testing also helps sort-out the legitimate public concerns about privacy and air safety as we move toward a safe and responsible integration of unmanned aircraft.”

Although mainly used by the military, businesses, farmers, government entities and others hope to use them in the future. Universities across the country are starting programs to study them.

The FAA does not allow their commercial use. It is working to create guidelines by 2016.

Projections are that 7,500 commercial drones could be in the skies within the decade, according to aviation experts.

How do you feel about drones being tested locally? Tell us in the comments.


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MELISSA January 02, 2014 at 11:45 AM
SAY NO TO DRONES! Think about it- can the FAA or any other organization safely effectively regulate drones in the us? Think about 9/11, not to mention all the press us military drones are getting from overseas. How can this be safely managed? The area in question becomes so much broader and yet the details minute. Who's responsibility will it be to keep a drone in the hands of a destructive force from darting in and harming any portion of the populace? How would we have caught the Boston Marathon bombers if not for the fact that they needed to be there in person to carry out their act? An anonymous drone amidst other drones becomes impossible to track. Who claims to be about to take on THAT task? Think about 9/11, or the negative press our military drones are getting due to their mismanagement overseas. Without even dissecting the impossible mechanics of such a system over here, it is obvious that the malice to misuse these effectively exists, and also the fuel to seek retribution over their use in other lands is growing daily. SAY NO TO DRONES. PLEASE.

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