As part of a partnership, Virginia and New Jersey have been selected as one of six test sites in the country for unmanned aircraft systems with the FAA Tech Center in Egg Harbor Township acting as the lead data collector. Something that has local officials excited for the future.
"The applications are enormous and we're sort of only limited by our creativity with what we do here," said Congressman and Chair of the Aviation Sub-Committee, Frank LoBiondo.
After a process years in the making, a joint application between the states of Virginia and New Jersey, and put forth by Virginia Tech and Rutgers University, was selected as one of only six test sites around the country by the FAA. And with the Hughes FAA Tech Center selected as the lead data collector for the tests, officials think the sky is the limit for the potential impact on the region.
"We also believe the other five test sites will have the work that they're doing brought here to be validated so in the long run, we think this provides enormous opportunity for economic and the potential for jobs," said LoBiondo.
New Jersey/ Virginia will join Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, New York and a Hawaii–Oregon–Alaska partnership as the only locations in the country to test the unmanned aircraft systems. The unmanned aircraft are not for military use and the test, which will run until 2017, will attempt to integrate the systems into the national airspace.
"Whether they are very small or larger, they have to be completely safe and certainly there are a lot of privacy issues that we wanted to address and will continue to address to make sure these are being done in a way not to invade personal privacy," said the Congressman.
South Jersey residents we spoke with hope to see the tests reach their full potential.
"If it don't work out you can always stop it, as long as they're not spying on people," said Egg Harbor Township resident Anthony Stinsman. "If they're using it for good we’ll see how it goes.”
"I think it's a good thing,” said Somers Point resident Bob Sciubba. “I think it's good for the economy, I think it will be good for the people that work there."
Congressman LoBiondo sees the potential for medical, agricultural and even crime prevention measures should unmanned aircraft pass the tests.
"This is one of those times I’m pleased to say the result is good and positive and we're on the right track."
Amazon recently made headlines when they expressed their plans to use drones to deliver packages. As for the test sites, one of these six is expected to be operational with 180 days of today's announcement.
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