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FAA Flying High With Drone Pilot Program

Four recent UAS test runs highlighted by administration

WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration says four UAS Integration Pilot Program test flights have recently demonstrated how drone technology can advance while the government studies how to regulate unmanned aerial systems.

The current program consists of ten projects. A press release highlighted “successful flights in North Carolina, Virginia, Kansas and Oklahoma” that accomplished a variety of tasks, according to the FAA.

“We’re working with state, local, and tribal governments and private industry to demonstrate and study expanded drone operations,” said Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell. “This program gives us a better understanding of how operations over people, beyond visual line of sight ops, and flying drones at night work at the local level.”

In Raleigh, a Matternet drone delivered medical supplies to rural areas on behalf of WakeMed Health and Hospitals.

A little farther north, in the Old Dominion, the FAA and Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership delivered an ice cream cone to a child in order to test long-distance drone delivery. (I wonder how much melted in the summer heat or if the drone was refrigerated?)

In Kansas, the FAA and the Kansas Department of Transportation flew a drone beyond visual sight with the ultimate goal of facilitating “precision agriculture and infrastructure inspections.”

And in Oklahoma, the FAA teamed up with the Choctaw Nation to bait feral hog traps using drones.