Dry Run for Commercial Drones

FAA Sets Six U.S. Test Flight Sites


Skeptics saying drones won’t be delivering your Amazon holiday gifts anytime soon might want to think again. The Federal Aviation Administration is working to develop operational guidelines for the commercial robo-craft by the end of 2015. On Monday, the FAA announced six states where drone testing will begin.

The administration selected sites in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia from 25 applicants—taking into consideration geography, climate, location, and airspace use, among other factors, the AP reports.

The lucky states are generally enthusiastic about hosting research facilities—the industry is expected to spike economic activity. The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International projected that the commercial drone industry will create 100,000 jobs and bring in $82 billion within 10 years after the aircraft are granted flight in shared airspace.

“This is wonderful news for Nevada that creates a huge opportunity for our economy,” said U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

North Dakota’s already committed $5 million to the venture.

Proposed commercial drone use has seen it’s share of controversy in recent months. Critics argue that loosening restrictions on drones in U.S. skies will bring America closer to “a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities,” the American Civil Liberties Union declared in a report last December.

Ask FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, though, and there is no question we’ll see drones in our skies—and soon. “We have successfully brought new technology into the nation’s aviation system for more than 50 years,” Huerta said in a report. “I have no doubt we will do the same with unmanned aircraft.”