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FAA moves ahead with plans to allow drone test flights in US airspace

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MQ-9 Reaper Drone (Credit: Lance Cheung / USAF)
MQ-9 Reaper Drone (Credit: Lance Cheung / USAF)

The FAA is announcing that it's moving ahead with plans to test drone flights at six locations in the USA. The sites were required as part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act that the administration signed into law a year ago, mandating that changes be made to incorporate unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into national airspace.

The site locations haven't yet been decided — the competition is expected to finish later this month — but while some are lauding the announcement for its potential to help with things like search and rescue and disaster response, others are concerned about the privacy implications. EPIC filed a lengthy petition last year asking for a public rulemaking on the privacy impact of aerial drones, which the FAA now says it intends to address through "engagement and collaboration with the public."