The U.S. Senate has been busy this week, as it has just approved a re-authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Apart from providing sufficient funding for the FAA to conduct its activities efficiently, the bill also requires the FAA to open U.S. airspace to drone flights until September 2015. It is also suggested that the Administration should come up with a plan in order to integrate drone flights within the current commercial and general schedules within the next 18 months.
The public opinion has been taken by surprise by the news, especially since no one is yet sure what will these heavily armed Predator drones be carrying around and especially who will pilot them:
“Commercial pilots have raised safety concerns. Although pilots are required to spend time flying planes and are tested on their abilities to hold licenses, no similar rules exist for the controllers of remote aircraft. Likewise, the FAA doesn’t certify drones like passenger planes against engine failure or wings falling off.” As 2015 draws near, we’re pretty confident that these issues will be resolved until the date expires.
Currently, drones flights are mostly confined to military airspace and far away from crowded urban areas and usually fly at a very low altitude. The U.S. government uses the same unmanned planes to patrol borders. But once the drone will be available for commercial use, big companies like Google and Microsoft will be able to take advantage of that. How? By using them to collecting images for their mapping products, for example.