Friday, August 9, 2013
The Federal Aviation Administration's recent certification of two unmanned aircraft for commercial use is a step towards opening the U.S. market for drones. The agency in late July gave the green light to Boeing's Insitu ScanEagle and AeroVironment's Puma. Congress in early 2012 called on the FAA to write rules by 2015 that would govern the commercial operation of drones that can be used for everything from spraying pesticides on farmland to monitoring sport events. The FAA said a major energy company plans to fly the ScanEagle off the Alaska coast to survey ice flows and whale migration, and the Puma will be used for oil spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance over the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean. The Teal Group has estimated that annual spending on drones around the world will almost double to $11.4 billion by 2022. (Source: Reuters, 08/08/13) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scout and Global Hawk UAVs are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Camp Shelby is home of a UAV regional flight center for the Army National Guard. Puma is among the UAVs used there; special forces fly UAVs at Stennis Space Center, Miss.