Arizona aerospace firms seek FAA approval to test unmanned aircraft

March 28, 2013

Arizona is among 37 states seeking federal approval for the testing of unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes. The Federal Aviation Adminstration will issue permits for drone operators in six states.

Drones already are used by the U.S. Army at Fort Huachuca near Tucson and to monitor security at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

But, the Arizona Commerce Authority and some aerospace companies want permission to begin testing drones for business and civilian operations in other parts of the state. Brian Wimmer is president of the Thompson-Wimmer Defense and Space Company in Sierra Vista and said Ariz. has a good chance of winning FAA approval.

“This really puts Arizona on the cutting edge of having the first crack at testing new systems and solutions provided by all kinds of aviation companies," Wimmer said. 

Wimmer said drones can be used to transport freight, shoot movies and fight wildfires, but the director of the Arizona American Civil Liberities Union said they are concerned drones could be used to collect people’s private information.

The FAA will announce which states get certification to test drones by the end of the year.   

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