FAA may announce plans for drone testing in Nevada
The Federal Aviation Administration will announce “soon” if Naval Air Station Fallon and two Southern Nevada Air Force bases will be incorporated into a multi-service center for development and testing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or “drones,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said here Monday.
“We should learn in three months or less if NAS Fallon, along with Nellis and Creech Air Force bases in Clark County, will be chosen by the FAA to be one of six nationwide drone testing sites,” said Sandoval, who attended Fallon’s annual Kiwanis Club Labor Day Pancake Breakfast and rode in the Lions Club’s downtown parade.
Although Sandoval was unable to predict the FAA’s choices for the drone training sites, he said that Nevada has been “extremely aggressive” in putting together what he hopes will be one of the winning bids.
“I am confident that Nevada’s proposal will be taken seriously. Nevada has a lot to offer for drone testing and development,” the governor said in a Lahontan Valley News Fallon Eagle-Standard interview.
NAS Fallon, combined with Creech and Nellis, have more combined airspace for UAV testing than any of the other states who have made bids for the test sites, Sandoval said.
He also noted that the Legislature during its last session appropriated $4 million to support the state’s bid application.
“Everyone in Nevada is on board with our proposal … including the two universities, private industry, several defense contractors, the state’s Congressional delegation and the Nevada Military Dept.,” he added.
The six nationwide UAV sites are to be developed primarily for the testing of civilian and domestic drones. Thus, if Nevada should be chosen as one of the six sites, NAS Fallon, Creech and Nellis would be “packaged” together as a single site where UAV research and development would begin in such areas as law enforcement, emergency response, environmental exploration and agriculture, the governor said.
Nevada’s bid for the testing site crosses political lines, said Sandoval, a Republican.
The team Sandoval put together to write the FAA bid has received excellent cooperation and encouragement from all the Democrats in Nevada’s Congressional delegation, and the offices of the governor and Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat and the Senate majority leader, have worked closely together in support of the bid.
If Nevada’s bid is approved, at least 10,000 new jobs could open up in the state for UAV testing, development and research, Sandoval said.
“The UAV site would greatly help diversify our economy. Nevada would become a major center for the aerospace industry,” he stated.
Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who also was in town for the Labor Day festivities, echoed Sandoval’s remarks about the importance of winning the UAV site bid.
The site in Nevada eventually would bring in billions of dollars and create a statewide aerospace and technology-related industry which in time would be one of the most dominant in the U.S., Krolicki said.
Krolicki, like Sandoval, said he endorses legislative proposals that would regulate surveillance of civilians by UAVs.
“Privacy is an important issue,” said Krolicki.
Should the UAV center in Nevada be established, safeguards must be established so that privacy is respected, he added.