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Unmanned Aircraft Systems in US skies: Early steps forward

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) will help reshape American aviation – and help civilians do everything from improve crop yields to support wildlife conservation. A crucial step in fulfilling that promise will be the assignment of radio spectrum to enable more-robust control of UAS.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael P. Huerta explains the FAA-authorized uses for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), including for law enforcement, disaster relief, border patrol, research into agriculture and weather, and surveying marine mammals and Arctic ice for commercial drilling purposes.
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As he announced a groundbreaking roadmap for the integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into US skies by 2015, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta discussed the FAA’s early efforts to take advantage of the potential of UAS to improve and save American lives. (Here are the specifics.)

Some 80 law-enforcement agencies currently use UAS, Mr. Huerta said at the event sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). Other authorized users include research universities and border patrol units. Recently, the FAA also authorized America’s first-ever commercial UAS flight in the sky above the Arctic circle. Conoco Phillips used the flight to survey ice and animal-migration patterns near a proposed drilling site.

As the FAA ramps up its regulatory regime for allowing more UAS flights in US skies, aviation policy expert Ted Wierzbanowski – also speaking at the event – said a crucial next step will be the assignment of radio spectrum to enable more-robust control of UAS vehicles. This will enable the full promise of UAS to help reshape American aviation – and help civilians do everything from improve crop yields to support wildlife conservation.


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