The FAA has chosen six states to develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft's march into U.S. skies.
The sites will be based in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia, according to the FAA.
FAA Selects Six Sites for Unmanned Aircraft Research http://t.co/5M578nWYSN— The FAA (@FAANews) December 30, 2013
Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding droneprograms.
The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015. Officials concede it may take longer.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says safety is the first priority in moving drones into U.S. airspace.
Governor Brian Sandoval called the selection a "historic moment" for Nevada. In a statement from his office, Sandoval said the FAA's decision could mean thousands of new jobs and an economic impact of $2.5 billion for the state.
"With the climate and air space of Nevada, we are uniquely equipped to help expand the development of UAVs. We have also partnered with private industry and academia to establish the curriculum necessary to create the UAS civilian workforce of the future in Nevada. Our state has been preparing for this selection and we are ready to enter this new era of aviation history."
Nevada's applicationo included public agencies as well as private companies and academic institutions. It identified three Test Ranges and four test sites.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also released the following statement:
“This is wonderful news for Nevada that creates a huge opportunity for our economy. Nevada has long been a leader in the UAS Industry, and no state makes a better candidate than ours. With this application approval, Nevada will continue to lead in new and innovative technologies of the 21st century, along with creating a large and profitable industry."