The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, and Virginia is one of them.
Virginia — along with Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Texas will host the research sites, providing diverse climates, geography and air traffic environments, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.
Virginia Tech will head the effort in Virginia.
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) released this statement today following the FAA selection of Virginia Tech’s proposal to spearhead a regional research effort on the safest and most effective ways to incorporate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the existing airspace.
Virginia Tech’s proposal, one of six from across the country selected by the FAA today, includes a cooperative agreement to work with research institutions and facilities across Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.
“We want to congratulate Virginia Tech and its partners for this success. Virginia’s selection provides an opportunity for the mid-Atlantic region to become a major hub for UAS research and testing, leveraging the growing private sector interest in UAS as well as incorporating military and NASA assets across our region. That’s why we have long supported Virginia's selection, and have worked to highlight the strengths of a Virginia-Maryland-New Jersey partnership with the FAA,” Sens. Warner and Kaine said.
“We hope this FAA research and testing also helps sort-out the legitimate public concerns about privacy and air safety as we move toward a safe and responsible integration of unmanned aircraft.”
Although mainly used by the military, businesses, farmers, government entities and others hope to use them in the future. Universities across the country are starting programs to study them.
The FAA does not allow their commercial use. It is working to create guidelines by 2016.
Projections are that 7,500 commercial drones could be in the skies within the decade, according to aviation experts.