FAA plans pilot program for drones to fly in US airspace

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Congress ordered the FAA to move toward allowing drones to fly alongside commercial aircraft in both the National Defense Authorization Act and funding bill that was passed for the agency earlier this year.

The laws call for the FAA to allow unmanned aircraft by 2015. Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said he was confident the agency both reach the deadline. 

“The FAA has a proven track record of safely introducing new technology and aircraft into the [national aviation system], and I am confident we will successfully meet the challenges posed by UAS technology,” Huerta said this week.

Supporters have said the use of drones in the commercial airspace would assist police departments in investigations, but critics like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have raised privacy concerns.

"Congress — and to the extent possible, the FAA — need to impose some rules (such as those we proposed in our report) to protect Americans’ privacy from the inevitable invasions that this technology will otherwise lead to," the ACLU wrote in a blog post when the FAA authorization bill was being considered in February.

"We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move," the blog post continued.