FAA partnering with communities to integrate drones into everyday life

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - There is an ongoing push in Washington to bring drones into everyday life. The Department of Transportation announced a program that will partner with communities across the country to figure out the best way to utilize unmanned aircraft technology.

Dan Elwell says it should be a point of pride for communities to get in on the ground floor of drone integration.

It would be a three-year test to see how unmanned aircraft could be utilized as a part of daily life in the U.S. Dan Elwell, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, says exciting times are on the horizon.

“We’re rewriting and about to write new chapters in the book of aviation in this country. And this to me is the biggest thing we’ve endeavored since the jet age,” said Elwell.

He says they want to gather real data from real communities to see how drones can be best used for everyday things, like grocery delivery, photography, firefighting and much more. He says the program is meant to pinpoint what shortcomings need to be worked out before they are normalized.

“Local communities...what role do they have in governing and overseeing drone operations? Because that’s a question we need to have resolved,” said Elwell.

The administration is selecting five communities to begin this pilot program. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), from a drone hotbed state, says he’s working hard to get his state selected.

“It’s off and running, so our challenge is to make sure that we manage it the right way,” said Hoeven.

Hoeven says the program will be great for addressing concerns of Americans when it comes to unmanned aircraft. He says privacy and security need to be taken into account, but when those issues are solved? The sky's the limit.

“We need to figure out how to do it in our airspace, but address all these issues that we’re talking about so people are comfortable,” said Hoeven.

Communities who want to participate have to send a notice of intent by Nov. 28. Applicants selected can begin flying drones under the agreement May 7, 2018.