FAA Picks San Diego to Test Integration of Drones into Local Airspace

11 May, 2018, 05:07 | Author: Ethel Goodwin
  • MGN Online

At the same time, Ellman and others cautioned that the program was just a first step and the USA regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, still has to approve individual test plans.

"We're focused on developing a safe operating model for drones in the airspace and we will continue our work to make this a reality", said Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice-president of public policy.

"The enthusiastic response to our request for applications demonstrated the many innovative technological and operational solutions already on the horizon", she said.

While specific details on the program were not immediately revealed, it is possible that the testing will look into drone usage in medical transport, food delivery, and even border surveillance.

Brockman said the airport authority has been working on the application since previous year.

Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the city was selected to participate in its experimental commercial drone program, called the "Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program".

San Diego is one of 10 state and local governments selected to work with the Federal Aviation Administration to integrate autonomous drones into the local airspace.

Over the next two and a half years, the awardees will collect a wide variety of drone data, helping the FAA "craft new enabling rules that allow more complex low-altitude operations, identify ways to balance local and national interests related to UAS integration, improve communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions, address security and privacy risks, and accelerate the approval of operations that now require special authorizations".




A total of149 bids were drawn from locales looking to host flights at night, flights over people and other drone operations that are now prohibited under U.S. regulations.

Cohen added, "This is a major development for Memphis and puts us on the map as a major player in the nascent drone industry".

The Department of Transportation left Amazon out of a list of companies that will be conducting a test to push for package delivery using drones.

In Virginia, drones operated by Alphabet's Project Wing will be used to deliver goods to various communities, and then researchers will get feedback from local residents.

FedEx will use drones to inspect aircraft at its hub in Tennessee, as well as for aircraft parts shipments and some package deliveries between the airport and other Memphis locations, Memphis Airport Authority Chief Executive Scott Brockman told Reuters.

The integration program, announced last October, is created to allow state, local and tribal governments to test more complex types of flights than are allowed under current regulations.

The USDOT announced 10 test projects that will allow companies including Alphabet, FedEx, and Uber to test the unmanned aircrafts across the country. While FAA gradually has begun approving waivers allowing night flights and other expanded operations, the industry wants to operate longer range flights for agriculture, inspections and deliveries.

The agency has said it hopes the proposed rules, laying out safety provisions when drones are flying above people and a requirement for them to transmit their identification, would be issued this year.

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