Drone makers are encouraging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow unmanned aircraft to fly over rural areas before a broader integration with commercial airplanes is completed.
The Arlington, Va.-based Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) said the FAA should let non-military drones fly on a "limited basis" because tests of their impact on other airplanes is taking too long to complete.
"The FAA has been working on this NPRM since 2009," AUVSI President Michael Toscano wrote in a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "Most recently, the FAA this month indicated that the small [Unmanned Aerial System] rule is now expected to be published in November 2014 – almost four years late."
"Whether it is helping farmers improve crop yields, assisting first responders with search and rescue missions or advancing scientific research, UAS are capable of saving time, saving money and most importantly, saving lives," Toscano wrote. "The industry, meanwhile, is poised to boost local economies and create jobs. AUVSI’s economic impact study found that, in the first decade following integration, the UAS industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact. However, each day that integration is delayed will lead to $27 million in lost economic impact.