Nevada will know by the end of this month whether it is one of six states designated to test the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program.
A hopeful Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved $1.46 million in hopes Nevada wins the nationwide competition. Steve Hill of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development said the Federal Aviation Administration has advised him the announcement will be made by the end of this month and that it wants testing to begin as soon as September 2014.
Hill said earlier this year Nevada submitted a seven-volume application laying out exactly how the state would manage everything from designating airports and fly zones for the unmanned drones to certifying companies building the drones to test them here.
The program is for commercial and other non-military uses of drones. Hill cited as an example Amazon’s recent announcement it intends to eventually use the drones to deliver orders to customers’ front doors.
“These are the types of vehicles the FAA wants to integrate into the airspace by next September,” he said.
Hill said he is confident Nevada’s application is one of the most thought out and documented of any of the 37 states seeking the program. All of the other applications are from a region, he said, but Nevada’s is the only application by an entire state.
Hill said the potential economic benefits to the state are huge because it would bring a huge industrial investment by the companies that design, build and program the UAVs. He said nationwide, that industry is expected to have an economic impact of $100 billion annually within a decade, providing upward of 100,000 jobs paying an average of $62,000 a year.
In Nevada, he said, it would create an estimated 15,000 jobs with potential impact of up to $8 billion a year.
But Hill assured the board headed by Gov. Brian Sandoval that the money, part of a $5 million account set aside for the UAV program, won’t be used unless Nevada wins one of the six designations.
“I feel good about our application,” said Sandoval after the vote. “We’ve been planning for this for two years.”
He said among Nevada’s advantages are the huge amount of available airspace for testing those aerial vehicles.