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Policy Bill Would Push for UAV Integration with Commercial Aircraft

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  • June 28, 2011
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The Defense Department would be required to report to Congress on the progress the federal government has made integrating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the national airspace system, under a provision in the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill the Senate Armed Services Committee approved June 17.

The legislation also requires DOD to assess the potential for one or more pilot programs at test ranges or other training facilities to accelerate the integration of UAVs. DOD should consult with the Federal Aviation Administration when preparing the report, according to the bill.

Several defense communities are angling to develop UAV industry clusters and trying to lift the current ban on flying drones in commercial airspace. Most prominently, Grand Forks, N.D., is trying to become a test site for UAVs once the federal government authorizes flying them in the national airspace system. The city and state of North Dakota have worked closely with the Air Force in developing businesses around the Global Hawk mission at Grand Forks AFB. The base celebrated the arrival of its first Global Hawk earlier this month.

The bill, S. 1253, is available on Thomas.

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