Friday, February 15, 2013

Debate On Drones Today In Washington

Congressional Committee Hearing Testimony Today On Unmanned Aircraft In U.S. Airspace
On Friday, February 15, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing titled “Operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System: Assessing Research and Development Efforts to Ensure Safety.” 

(Photo: Predator Drone Launching Hellfire Missle)

The hearing will examine challenges to integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems safely into the National Airspace System and federal research and development efforts to ensure the safe operation of UAS in the nation's airspace system.

The Washington Post recently reported that at least nine U.S. UAS crashes occurred near civilian airports overseas as a result of pilot error, mechanical failure, software bugs, or poor coordination with air-traffic controllers. No suitable technology exists that would provide UAS with the capability to “sense and avoid” other aircraft and airborne objects in compliance with FAA regulations.

Current domestic use of UAS is limited to academic institutions, federal, state, and local government organizations that receive a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization and private sector entities that receive special airworthiness certificates by the FAA. Typical domestic applications of UAS include border patrol, scientific research, and environmental monitoring.

The Customs and Border Patrol operates the MQ-1 Predator platform for border patrol, and public 
universities operate additional systems for academic research purposes.  

In 2010, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimated that over the next 15 years more than 23,000 jobs, totaling $1.6 billion in wages, could be created in the U.S. as a result of UAS integration into the National Airspace System.

Witnesses appearing at 10 a.m. today will be Dr. Karlin Toner, Director, Joint Program Development Office, Federal Aviation Administration, Dr. Edgar Waggoner, Director, Integrated Systems Research Program Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and  Dr. Gerald Dillingham, Director, Civil Aviation Issues, Government Accountability Office.

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