The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that it is seeking proposals from states, universities and other organizations for six sites where unmanned aircraft systems will be tested – a major step for integrating domestic drones into the U.S. airspace system.
“Our focus is on maintaining and improving the safety and efficiency of the world’s largest aviation system,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement Thursday. “This research will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies.” ----
“It’s unknown at this point,” Gerald Dillingham, director of Physical Infrastructure Issues at the Government Accountability Office, said at a Science, Space and Technology House subcommittee Friday. “From our perspective, that’s one of the big obstacles to integration – that is public acceptance, public education, public concern about how their data will be used.”
“American public are just frightened frankly about the use of UAS to possibly have invasions of their privacy and invasions of their civil rights and I’m extremely interested in making sure that we protect those privacy issues and civil rights issues,” Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight for the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, said.
“We have to at least figure out who the go to person is in the administration so that it doesn’t fall through the cracks,” Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y., ranking member of the subcommittee, said.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 required the FAA establish test sites for domestic drones by the end of 2012, a deadline which the agency missed as it assessed privacy concerns, as well as the full integration of unmanned aircraft systems into U.S. airspace by September 2015, which FAA views as a starting point.