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US approves ten drone pilot projects

Government agencies and drone companies will partner to address drone airspace issues

Several US state and local government entities will partner with private sector for drone test projects.
Several US state and local government entities will partner with private sector for drone test projects.

The US Department of Transportation has approved a set of drone pilot projects that will be conducted to advanced drone operations.

The Integration Pilot Program pairs drone manufacturers with local and state government in the USA to launch projects on airspace utilisation for drone services. Ten test projects have been approved for the program

The program will help tackle the most significant challenges in integrating drones into the national airspace while reducing risks to public safety and security. The program is designed to provide greater regulatory certainty and stability to local governments and communities, UAS owners and operators who are accepted into the program. In less than a decade, the potential economic benefit of integrated unmanned aerial systems into the nation's airspace is estimated to equal up to $82 billion and create up to 100,000 jobs.*

The pilot program will evaluate a variety of operational concepts, including night operations, flights over people, flights beyond the pilot's line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies, counter-UAS security operations, reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft, as well as local management of UAS operations subject to FAA oversight. Industries that could see immediate opportunities from the program include commerce, photography, emergency management, precision agriculture, and infrastructure inspections and monitoring.

Secretary Elaine L. Chao commented: "The Drone pilot program will accelerate the safe integration of drones into our airspace by creating new partnerships between local governments, the Federal Aviation Authority, and private drone operators.

"These partnerships will allow local communities to experiment with new technologies like package delivery, emergency drone inspections, and more, on terms that work for them and in ways that support a unified and safe airspace."