FAA’s big step forward: Unmanned Aircraft Systems coming to US airspace

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have powerful potential to improve and save US lives and are already helping a range of Americans – from law enforcement to farmers. With FAA safety and privacy regulations in place, experts predict that small UAS will proliferate in the next few years.

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Ali Bahrami, vice president of civil aviation at Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), says the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) release of a new road map for the implementation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) sets the stage for a new chapter in aviation.

Given the powerful potential for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to improve and save American lives, the country took a big step forward recently when – at an event sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta released a roadmap for integrating UAS into US skies. (Here are details of the announcement.)

Ali Bahrami, Vice President for Civil Aviation at AIA, called it a “historic” and “exciting” day unlike any in his career. The reason: The FAA roadmap lays out – with reassuring certainty – the specific steps by which US airspace will be transformed over the next several years by the integration of UAS. In addition, Administrator Huerta released a plan for safety recommendations and privacy requirements for the six US test sites that will be chosen by the end of 2013.

But the full integration won’t happen overnight. Aviation policy expert Ted Wierzbanowski explained it’s far from likely that an unmanned 747 will soon fly from New York to Los Angeles. Rather, smaller UAS vehicles will proliferate – including those used by law enforcement, firefighters, search-and-rescue squads, farmers, and weather forecasters. Small UAS, after all, are easier to operate, and they fly in places that don’t interfere with bigger aircraft. It is, he said, a strong and logical start to bringing the full potential of UAS into American skies.

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