Feds Announces Test Sites for Drone Aircraft - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Feds Announces Test Sites for Drone Aircraft

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The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen 6 states, including Nevada, to develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft's march into U.S. skies.
 
The FAA announced Monday the sites will be based in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.
 
Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs.
 
The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015. Officials concede it may take longer.
 
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says safety is the first priority in moving drones into U.S. airspace.

"This is wonderful news for Nevada that creates a huge opportunity for our economy," said Senator Harry Reid. "Nevada has long been a leader in the UAS Industry, and no state makes a better candidate than ours. With this application approval, Nevada will continue to lead in new and innovative technologies of the 21st century, along with creating a large and profitable industry. I appreciate the work of all those involved and I look forward to working with Governor Sandoval to ensure a successful implementation of the award, and subsequent creation of the testing sites in Nevada."

In 2012, Senator Reid led passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, establishing the Federal Aviation Administration program to begin testing for the integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles--commonly referred to as drones--into the National Airspace System. Awarding Nevada the FAA test sites will have far reaching implications on the economy of Nevada.  The range of jobs created includes, but is not limited to: teachers, machinists, aircraft mechanics, software developers, electrical engineers, and human resource professionals.

"The FAA designation of Nevada as a UAS Test Site is an incredible step forward for the State of Nevada," said Steve Hill, Director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.  "It allows us to establish a leadership role and be at the forefront of a new and important future industry.  The job creation and economic impact will be significant - growing during the testing phase and expanding as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) becomes a commercial industry.  We look forward to working with the FAA and other Test Sites to develop an industry that is safe and secure while creating good jobs and providing the benefits that stem from commercial applications.  I want to thank everyone who directly worked to make this a reality, and I also want to thank elected officials and communities throughout Nevada for their unwavering support."

"Being selected as one of six sites for UAV development in the country is a historic moment for Nevada," Governor Brian Sandoval said. "With the climate and air space of Nevada, we are uniquely equipped to help expand the development of UAVs. We have also partnered with private industry and academia to establish the curriculum necessary to create the UAS civilian workforce of the future in Nevada. Our state has been preparing for this selection and we are ready to enter this new era of aviation history. I thank Senator Reid for his tireless work on this issue and the opportunity to work together on this momentous day for our state."

"The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority is honored to help develop the next generation of aviation technology, and policies that will respect privacy concerns, while bringing jobs and economic benefit to our entire region," Marily Mora, President/CEO of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, said. "We look forward to working with the Governor's Office of Economic Development, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, the University of Nevada, Desert Research Institute and the private sector to develop Reno-Stead and Northern Nevada into a UAS research and development
center."

U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) today responded to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) announcement that Nevada has been designated as an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) test site with the following statement:

"Considering that Nevada continues to lead the nation in unemployment, the FAA's decision is both welcome and well-timed. Nevada has long been a leader in UAS development and testing. Given our state's geographic location, extremely qualified workforce, and strong partnerships with universities, Nevada is well-positioned to ensure the success of these programs.

"I am confident that the FAA, Congress, and the State of Nevada can strike a balance between this opportunity and the development of privacy standards and safeguards that will guarantee the constitutional rights of Nevadans and Americans across the country," said Senator Dean Heller.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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