Drone testing expanded to Texas

Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday announced it has established a fourth testing site for the use of commercial drones in American airspace. 



The agency said tests are now being conducted at Texas A&M University’s campus in Corpus Christi., 

The FAA had already established three other drone testing sites in North Dakota, Alaska and Nevada

ADVERTISEMENT
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Texas was a logical location for conducting more of the trial drone flights.

“The Texas aerospace industry contributes substantially to the state’s total economic output,” said Foxx said in a statement. “It is appropriate that Texas is becoming a pioneer in the emerging unmanned aircraft industry.”

The FAA is under heavy pressure to approve the use of commercial drones, with private companies such as Amazon clamoring to use them for deliveries and other tasks.

Congress has required the FAA to develop a plan for boosting the use of drones in the U.S. by 2015. The FAA is planning to test the interaction between drones and other types of airplanes at six sites across the country between now and then. 

The agency has shut down drone operations in the meantime that were being conducted by groups as varied as an Internet beer company and the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team.

Police and other law enforcement groups originally sought the technology. Privacy advocates have raised concerns about increased surveillance, however, and are warning the FAA to tread carefully. 

The FAA has said any of its potential test sites would have to have a plan to protect the privacy of nearby citizens.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Friday that the drone testing was going as planned.

"The UAS test sites will help us identify operational goals as well as safety issues we must consider when expanding the use of unmanned aircraft into our airspace,” Huerta said in a statement. “This industry is growing exponentially, and we are working hard to make sure it does so safely.”