Airport in Pendleton to Become Commercial Drone Testing Site - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Airport in Pendleton to Become Commercial Drone Testing Site

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The Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton will soon be a testing site for commercial drones. The Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton will soon be a testing site for commercial drones.

PENDLETON, OR - The Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton will soon be a testing site for commercial drones. 

The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that would allowed as testing sights, Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

The University of Alaska was among six test-site operators chosen by the FAA for the work. Its proposal includes 18 test sites not just in Alaska, but in Hawaii and Pendleton, Oregon as well.

The airport in Pendleton now has 180 days to put safety standards in place for its testing range for the commercial drones. The drone will begin flying confined to airspace near the airport, but should then expand as the technology becomes more advanced. 

Pendleton has recently been working towards becoming a better testing site for drones. The Oregon National Guard was authorized in May to fly a surveillance drone out of the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport. In October, hundreds of people in the drone industry came to town for their annual Pacific Northwest conference. 

As far as commercial drones go, the internet retailer Amazon gave the country a glimpse of the future with its plans to use remote controlled drones to deliver packages straight to your front door.

The FAA is now working on plans of its own to do the same thing, making sure the actions would be regulated, controlled and safe.  The drone testing will be conduction in a range of difference climates, from the bitter cold of Fairbanks, Alaska, to the sweltering heat of Corpus Christi, Texas, and then back up to Rome, New York where drones will be test flown in the heavily congested air traffic in the northeast, all with an eye toward opening the skies to commerce.

It could take years before all the necessary safeguards and regulations are in place, so while the FAA doesn't currently allow commercial use of drones, the operational and safety guidelines could materialize by the end of 2015.

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