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“This is a technology that shows great promise but also brings significant challenges, so our test sites provide a structured framework where we’re able to conduct research, conduct test operations, and really understand how we can safely integrate these aircraft into the national airspace,” he said.

The FAA chose the six unmanned aircraft systems research and test site operators after a 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states. The test sites — University of Alaska, Nevada, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) — are designed to collect data for the FAA concerning safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace, which is expected in 2015.

HE&IT magazine’s Career Voices department features Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center, one of the six test sites selected by the FAA to research drone technology.

Know Before You Fly 1. Don’t fly above 400 feet.

2. Keep your unmanned aircraft within sight.

3. Don’t operate near people or crowds.

4. Do not fly an unmanned aircraft within five miles of an airport without notifying FAA Air Traffic Control or the airport operator. These conversations with Air Traffic Control are critical for safety.

5. You may only fly unmanned aircraft for hobby or recreational uses — you cannot earn money or use it for your business unless you get prior authori- zation from the FAA.

6. Please respect the privacy of every- one. No taking pictures of people if they are not expecting it!

7. Join a model aircraft club to help you learn how to safely operate and enjoy your aircraft.

Source: Safety Guidelines for SUAS Recreational Users

the FAA offered safety rules for small unmanned aircraft (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. Under the proposed rules, the person flying a small unmanned aircraft would be an “operator.” An operator would have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test, and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate. To maintain certification, the operator would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24 months.

The new rules also propose operating limitations designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground:

1. The operator must discontinue the flight when continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people, or property.

2. A small UAS may not fly over people, except those directly involved with the flight.

3. Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.

Huerta has also addressed hot button issues about privacy concerns and the commercial use of drones.

“The thing that we care about, first and foremost, is the safety of our national airspace system. And these aircraft operate very differently, and they operate in the same airspace with a wide variety of other users,” he told NPR.

Just before the holidays last December, Huerta and representatives of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and the Small UAV Coalition joined to launch a “Know Before You Fly” website and educational campaign. Amazon, 3D Robotics, Airware, and camera manufacturer GoPro are some of the Small UAV Coalition members.

The website summarized the rules that apply to each of three categories of users: recreational, business, and public.

The emphasis is on part of the national air space that the FAA doesn’t currently control — below 500 feet. In February

10 HISPANIC ENGINEER & Information Technology | Fall 2015

4. Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions.

The rule maintains the existing prohibition against operating in a careless or reckless manner. It also would bar an operator from allowing any object to be dropped from the UAS.

The FAA is also asking for comment on how the agency can leverage the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.”

Next-Generation Technology FAA employees work with next-generation technology at airports, regional offices and centers, and headquarters in Washington, D.C. It takes the combined efforts of air traffic control, engineering, safety and security, acquisition, contracts, or IT.

Learn more about the different types of FAA occupations in the Career Fields section.

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