September 18, 2012

Obstacles may delay drones’ access to US skies

Joan Lowy Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says safety and security obstacles raise concern that the Federal Aviation Administration won’t be able meet a deadline to allow civilian drones routine access to U.S. skies within three years.

A Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday says the FAA has already missed one deadline set by Congress in a law passed last February, and could miss other looming deadlines. The law requires FAA to develop a system for civilian drones to fly safely in airspace currently limited to manned aircraft by Sept. 30, 2015, and sets several milestones for the agency to meet.

Among the difficult-to-resolve issues is how to ensure drones won’t collide with manned aircraft, and how to prevent hackers from interfering with the GPS signals drones rely on for navigation.

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