The FAA has announced six U.S. states in which commercial-built drones will be tested at sites specifically set up for the purpose. The FAA spent 10 months deliberating on this decision, and it may lead to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ drone shipment announcement becoming a reality.
The Federal Aviation Administration reviewed 25 proposals sent in by 24 stats, considering criteria such as climate, infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, and risk.
University of Alaska, State of Nevada, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University were ultimately selected, each focusing on a specific research. Griffiss International will investigate the impact on air traffic, for example, while Texas A&M will develop drone airworthiness test standards.
Pilots will be notified through announcements where the test drones are being flown once testing begins.
The FAA went on to say:
Each test site operator will manage the test site in a way that will give access to parties interested in using the site. The FAA’s role is to ensure each operator sets up a safe testing environment and to provide oversight that guarantees each site operates under strict safety standards.
From the start, the FAA recognized it was important to have requirements ensuring that privacy and civil liberties are protected at the test sites. Among other requirements, test site operators must comply with federal, state, and other laws protecting an individual’s right to privacy, have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention, and conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment.
Test site operation will continue at least until February 13, 2017.