House to hold drone hearing

House to hold drone hearing
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Lawmakers in the House will holding a hearing next week to discuss the possibility of allowing nonmilitary drones flying alongside commercial airplanes in the U.S.  

The hearing comes as the Federal Aviation Administration faces increased pressure to approve a rapid expansion of U.S. drone use. 

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Friday it would hold a hearing on Dec. 10 to check on the FAA’s progress with a congressionally mandate drone review. 

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“The Aviation Subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), will hold a hearing next week on the status of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) integration into U.S. airspace and the development of the UAS industry,” the panel said in a statement about the hearing. 

“While the United States has the technology and practical expertise to be the global leader in the UAS industry, many complex policy issues remain to be addressed,” the committee’s statement continued. “Moreover, there are growing signs that governments and entrepreneurs outside of the United States are making significant strides in this growing industry.  This hearing will focus on the state of the emerging UAS industry in the United States, including the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) ongoing efforts to safely integrate unmanned devices into the airspace, unresolved legal and public policy issues, and U.S. competitiveness.” 

Congress has given the FAA until September 2015 to finalize new rules for nonmilitary drones in the U.S. 

The agency has been testing the interaction between drones and other types of commercial and private airplanes at multiple sites across the country. 

The agency is facing increased pressure to approve the use of drones quickly because online companies, such as Amazon, have said they could be used to speed up delivery times. 

Police and other law enforcement groups are also seeking approval to use the technology, and the FAA has also investigated several drone incidents that occurred in conjunction with college and professional sporting events.

The potential for increased use of drones has drawn criticism from privacy advocates, who have raised concerns about surveillance.

The deadline from Congress for the FAA to issue a ruling on drones was included in the funding bill that was approved for the agency in 2012.