FAA Picks Six Sites For Drone Testing


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Back in early December, Amazon unveiled its vision for the future of package delivery. Within the next decade the company hopes to have a full fleet of unmanned drones that can deliver packages in a fraction of the time it takes traditional delivery trucks to drop off packages.

Amazon did admit that its drone program is years away from implementation, citing federal aviation laws a a short-term barrier to delivery drones. Now it appears that laws pertaining to commercial drones will be finalized sooner than many thought possible.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week has announced the selection of six test site operators that will research unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, drones) at sites across the U.S. The research conducted at these sites will help the FAA formulate future laws pertaining to commercial drones.

The six operators selected are all public and include the University of Alaska, Griffiss International Airport, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, and the state of Nevada. The operators were all selected based on their experience with aviation, risk assessments, and their test site geography and climate.

These drone tests will be meant to help the FAA form safety and certification standards for such devices. According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the tests will eventually guide companies in "how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies."

“Safety continues to be our first priority as we move forward with integrating unmanned aircraft systems into U.S. airspace,” said Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator. “We have successfully brought new technology into the nation’s aviation system for more than 50 years, and I have no doubt we will do the same with unmanned aircraft.”