By Frank Lewis
December 30, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Despite the fact that over 100,000 Ohioans are actively involved in the aerospace industry, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not chosen Ohio as one of the locations for its unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test sites.
“I am deeply disappointed by the FAA’s decision not to select the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center as the location for one of the FAA’s six UAS test sites across the country. Ohio is a national leader in aerospace, and would have been an ideal location for one of the sites,” U.S. Senator Rob Portman said. “Over 100,000 Ohioans work in aerospace, where they develop and build cutting-edge technologies and world-class commercial and military equipment. In addition, assets like Dayton’s U.S. Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and industry partners throughout the state provide outstanding technical expertise and more than $9 billion in Research and Development and testing every year. I have worked extensively to strengthen these unique capabilities and increase Ohio’s leadership in defense and aerospace.”
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies. Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host the research sites, providing diverse climates, geography and air traffic environments, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.
Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs.
The FAA does not currently allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015, although officials concede the project may take longer than expected. The FAA projects some 7,500 commercial drones could be aloft within five years of getting widespread access to American airspace.
The growing drone industry has critics among conservatives and liberals.
Giving drones greater access to U.S. skies moves the nation closer to “a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities,” the American Civil Liberties Union declared in a report last December. However, an industry-commissioned study has predicted more than 70,000 jobs would develop in the first three years after Congress loosens drone restrictions on U.S. skies. The same study projects an average salary range for a drone pilot between $85,000 and $115,000.
“I remain committed to advancing Ohio’s leadership role in aerospace and unmanned systems,” Portman said. “The Ohio/Indiana UAS Center will move forward with its plans to serve the needs of federal, state, local, and private entities as they continue research and development of UAS. Keeping Ohio’s aerospace industry strong and competitive is critical not only to our state’s economy, but to the national security of the United States.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.