Trump Administration Steps Up Testing To Integrate Drones Into US Airspace

Vandana Rambaran | Political Reporter

The number of registered drones in the U.S. has climbed to 1.2 million as of Aug. 17, making drone testing and regulation a top priority for the Trump administration, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced Wednesday.

“Drone technology is the most significant development in aviation since the introduction of the jet engine,” Chao said at the 6th annual Commercial Aviation Industry Summit in Washington D.C. “The rules and regulations governing our national airspace never anticipated drones.” (RELATED: Drone Models Hit The Runway At Milan’s Fashion Week [VIDEO])

The Department of Transportation launched a pilot program in May that initiated testing for drones under conditions that were previously deemed unsafe under current law. This includes testing drones flown over people, flown beyond the line of sight and flown at night or in the dark, according to Chao.

“The goal is the safe integration of drones into our national airspace,” Chao said.

There are 238,007 registered drones for commercial use and more than 103,779 certified drone pilots in the U.S., according to Department of Transportation data. The innovation of drones has created a new opportunity for jobs as well, opening up positions for much needed drone pilots, Chao added.

“There must be a path forward for the safe integration of drone if our country is to remain a global aviation leader and reap the safety and economic benefits drones have to offer,” Chao said.

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