Unmanned drones are likely coming to an air space near you. The eventual and unavoidable integration of myriad unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), both civil and defense, in the same airspace as commercial airliners and military aircraft is a hotly debated topic. Civilian and military communities are actively voicing a wealth of concerns—such as over safety, privacy, and security—about the prospect.
Government agencies worldwide are working to incorporate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into public airspace, both quickly and safely. The FAA Reauthorization Act (aka, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012), signed in February of this year by U.S. President Obama, mandates that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop and put in place regulations for the licensing of drones in the national airspace (referred to as NAS) by 2015.
The United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority previously indicated integration would commence in 2015, as well, but representatives of European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment (EuroCAE) Working Groups 73 and 93 seem to be a bit more cautious, predicting integration by 2020.
Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority, to the surprise of many mil/aero pundits, reportedly developed new regulations permitting the flight of small unmanned aircraft if the manufacturer can demonstrate the UAV’s safety. Certification is required and, although applications have been submitted, none have been approved as yet.
The FAA forecasts that up to 30,000 unmanned drones will be in operation in the U.S. national air space by 2020. Unmanned technology providers will grow their businesses. Law enforcement and even the paparazzi will gain new, unmanned tools for surveillance. The military budget will benefit from more cost-effective and readily available commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) unmanned systems and components. It’s all good, right? This geek wonders.