The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday named Nevada as one of six centers for development of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller all celebrated the selection as a potentially major economic boon for the state, bringing numerous high-paying jobs to Nevada along with support industries related to the development and testing of unmanned aerial systems.
The potential jobs, they said, range from teachers to machinists and mechanics, software developers and engineers.
“With this application approval, Nevada will continue to lead in new and innovative technologies of the 21st century, along with creating a large and profitable industry,” Reid said.
The program was created by passage of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which was spearheaded by Reid.
“With the climate and airspace of Nevada, we are uniquely equipped to help expand the development of UAVs,” Sandoval said.
Given Nevada’s continuing high unemployment, Heller said, the designation is “both welcome and well-timed.”
“Given our state’s geographic location, extremely qualified work force and strong partnerships with universities, Nevada is well-positioned to ensure the success of these programs,” Heller said.
Sandoval said the application for designation — the only one submitted as a unified statewide effort — included public and private partners, industry, academic leaders and representatives from the north, south and rural areas of Nevada.
That effort was coordinated through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, headed by Steve Hill.
“We look forward to working with the FAA and other test sites to develop an industry that is safe and secure while creating good jobs and providing the benefits that stem from commercial applications,” Hill said.
His office has estimated the drones designation could create thousands of jobs nationwide with average wages as high as $62,000 a year. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates the technology will eventually create more than 100,000 jobs nationwide and generate more than $82 billion in economic impact during its first decade.
In addition to Nevada, the University of Alaska, New York state’s Griffiss International Airport, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University and Virginia Tech were chosen as centers for the development of commercial drones.