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Hawaii To Be FAA Test Site For Drones

December 30, 2013, 5:19 PM HST
* Updated December 30, 6:28 PM
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Hawaii will be a research and testing site for the Federal Aviation Administration as the agency comes up with regulations for the growing nationwide use of the unmanned aircraft systems, or drones.

In a media release today, the FAA said Hawaii, Oregon and Alaska comprise one of six regional test sites located across the country where researchers will look at how to safely integrate drones into US airspace.

The FAA’s research plan includes developing standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. Sites in Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and a Virginia-New Jersey partnership also were selected.

Currently, drones perform border and port surveillance, help with scientific research and environmental monitoring, support public safety by law enforcement agencies, help state universities conduct research and support other missions for government entities, the FAA said.

Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island has been included in discussions of locations in Hawaii where the testing could occur, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported, citing unnamed officials.

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The FAA expressed confidence “that the agency’s research goals including system safety and data gathering, aircraft certification, command and control issues, control station layout and certification and environmental impacts will be met” through the research period, expected to extend into February 2017.

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Test site operators also must comply with federal, state, and other laws protecting individual privacy, have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention, and conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment, the FAA said.

“We have successfully brought new technology into the nation’s aviation system for more than 50 years, and I have no doubt we will do the same with unmanned aircraft,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in the release.

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