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Jerry Cornfield | jcornfield@heraldnet.com
Published: Monday, December 30, 2013, 10:16 a.m.

Washington not chosen by FAA as drone test site

The Federal Aviation Administration today named the six states where sites for research and testing of drones will be conducted and Washington is not one of them.

Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia are where the sites will be located.

"In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk," according to a press release. "In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs."

Washington's proposal was one of 25 received by the FAA.

It called for establishing the Pacific Northwest Unmanned Aerial System Flight Center and involved experts from Washington State University, the University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Innovate Washington.

Alex Pietsch, director of the Governor's Office of Aerospace, said in an email he learned of the news from the press release.

"Obviously, we're disappointed. We will be working in the coming days and weeks to understand why Washington's bid fell short and whether there are opportunities to partner with our neighbors. Washington has much to offer the FAA and the UAS industry and we believe we can still play an important role as it emerges in the years ahead."

Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs.

"These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told the Associated Press.



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