Unmanned Drone advocates want to test-fly UAVs over Dayton airspace

Preditor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

Defense industry supporters of efforts to establish the Dayton, Ohio region as a national center of training, education and product development for unmanned aircraft say that persuading the U.S. government to approve airspace for flying the unmanned craft near this urban area is critical.

Civilian authorities fear technology for unmanned aircraft can’t assure air safety.

Being able to test-fly unmanned aerial vehicles and their systems near where research, development and integration of those systems takes place is a key as the Miami Valley tries to sharpen its capabilities to support Air Force acquisition of UAVs that are managed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, defense industry and business leaders said. Advocates are hoping that the defense industry could lead to new jobs for the region.

“Having compatible space — that’s the Holy Grail that’s the key to breaking into having a significant chunk of the UAV industry,” said Joe Zeis, chief strategist and a vice president of the Dayton Development Coalition a coalition of Dayton area business, defense, and even military leaders with very close ties to the Republican Party as big money donors. (See comments section for links of political donors to the Dayton Development Coalition and list of members that include many right of center Democrats).

Zeis, a retired Air Force officer, has spent months meeting with Dayton-area business and defense leaders to assess the region’s interest and ability to support developments of UAVs and affiliated sensors, propulsion and other systems.

Note that the mainstream coverage conveniently leaves out the word ‘defense’ as if it is a dirty word could this be an oversight or conveniently intentional? If intentional, so much for American journalism, or should we say who really owns American journalism. Suffice it to say that most intelligent people already know that mainstream journalism has turned into propaganda for whoever can control the media.

The Dayton Development Coalition is working with the Air Force Research Laboratory and has had discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration and members of Congress about the possibility of federal approval of new airspace where unmanned aircraft would be allowed to fly, Zeis said.

What Zeis and this mainstream media coverage conveniently fail to mention is that the members of Congress that the Dayton Development Coalition is in contact with are the same politicians they donate campaign contributions to. Routine supporters of the Defense Industry who get campaign contributions from the industry such as Republican Congressman John Boehner (R. OH), Congressman Mike Turner (R.OH), and Congressman Steve Austria (R. OH) whose districts border Wright-Patterson AFB are not the only right of center politicians the defense industry groups is courting but even Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has been approached.

The FAA has publicly been cool to the idea, worrying that technology aboard UAVs to keep them from colliding with manned aircraft isn’t advanced enough to assure a safe airspace.

“As of today, unmanned aircraft systems are not ready for seamless or routine use yet in civilian airspace,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said during a Nov. 18 speech to an aviation industry group in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Without a pilot who can look and scan to the left and the right — just the way you and I do when we’re backing out of a parking space — there’s a perceived level of risk that the American public isn’t ready for,” Babbitt said.

UAV industry advocates say they believe that UAV sense-and-avoid technology, to see and avoid other aircraft, and “autonomous” systems that can independently fly the UAVs and land them if on-board problems crop up, have advanced to the point that the FAA’s concerns about airspace safety can be addressed. Industry talks with the FAA are continuing.

An airspace of 20 to 30 square miles would be adequate for flying the UAVs and testing how sensors and other devices aboard would work together, said Donald Smith, president of Co-Operative Engineering Services Inc., a Beavercreek-based company that develops and builds UAVs of 100 pounds or less at the Tech Town development in Dayton. Ideally, a UAV-dedicated facility would have a radar tower and other support infrastructure for flight-testing the aircraft and on-board equipment, he said.

UAV-flying airspace can be available at Camp Atterbury, Ind., home to Indiana National Guard and Indiana Air National Guard operations, or in southwest Ohio airspace over Highland County that is used by the Springfield Air National Guard Base for training flights, officials said.

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Robert L. Hanafin, Staff Writer

If you are a resident of Indiana or Ohio let us know what you think, do you want unmanned drones over flying your house or city?


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