D-Day: FAA prepares for invasion of 7,500 drones
Privacy plans, transparency promised at test sites
The chief of the Federal Aviation Administration predicted Thursday that U.S. airspace could be crowded with as many as 7,500 commercial drones within the next five years, as he unveiled a longawaited regulatory blueprint that seeks to protect Americans’ privacy while requiring testing for law enforcement and private companies seeking to operate unmanned aerial vehicles.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said his agency would set up six sites across the country to test drone operators, but cautioned that there could be delays for those looking to obtain certificates to operate unmanned aircraft once the regulatory guidelines are in place. He said ensuring safety in increasingly congested skies was his agency’s top priority.
“We must fulfill those obligations in a thoughtful, careful manner that ensures safety and promotes economic growth,” Mr. Huerta said in a speech to aerospace industry executives.
The FAA’s announcement is the latest step in the march toward transitioning drones from the military use in the war on terrorism that made them famous to civilian applications that can range from collecting survey and weather data to assisting rescues and law enforcement operations.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, the leading trade group for the nation’s private-sector drone operators, estimated this year that the commercial drone industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and generate more than $82 billion in economic impact over the next 10 years — if the government