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New U. S. law to integrate manned drones into airspace by 2015

Washington , Mon, 30 Apr 2012 ANI

Washington, Apr 30(ANI): The United States' Federal Aviation Administration is developing plans to integrate drones operated by individuals or corporations into U.S. airspace by 2015.

The move comes after FAA officials had expressed concerns that ground-based pilots of drone aircraft can't always see or avoid commercial and other aircraft, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Under a new law signed by President Barack Obama in February 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration must write rules by May 14 on how it will license police, fire department and other public safety agencies eager to fly lightweight drones at low altitudes.

The FAA reauthorization bill stipulates the new rules will help determine who can fly a drone and how high and far without posing a threat.

Advocates, however, said the unmanned planes could be deployed for various uses as dusting crops, selling real estate, giving real-time traffic reports and helping with disaster relief. Some can stay aloft at a fraction of the cost of helicopters and manned aircraft.

The set of FAA rules will apply only to police and other first-responder drones smaller than 4.4 pounds that are flown in daylight below 400 feet, and that stay within a pilot's line of sight. They resemble large model planes.

"We want [police] to be able to use the aircraft sooner because there is a public interest," government relations manager for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Ben Gielow said.

Critics said the FAA is moving too quickly to secure privacy and safety.

"I think it is a very quick timeline. Rushing to push through applications to fly drones doesn't seem like a good idea," a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation Jennifer Lynch said. (ANI)

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