At AUVSI's unmanned systems conference a couple of weeks ago, the FAA paid a good deal of lip service to the idea of integrating robotic, unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. Then they basically told those of us in the crowd that they would have the regulations ready by 2025 (notably, the speakers didn't pause for applause at this time). But not every government is being so patient. The world's first airport designed specifically for unmanned aircraft--boasting a 4,100-foot runway, is opening in Wales, UK, as a first step in getting UAVs and manned aircraft working together in the same airspace.
The UK's Civilian Aviation Authority is wasting no time dedicating some airspace to unmanned aircraft, designating a 500-square-mile swath of rural Wales and the Irish Sea to the development and flight of unmanned systems. The site is not restricted; general aviation and military flights will still proceed through the airspace as normal, giving the UK--and any companies that care to involve themselves in the future of flight--a space to work on their systems in real general aviation airspace.
That's huge for both makers of unmanned systems and the UK. The U.S. is slowly coming around to the idea that un-piloted commercial and civilian aircraft are the future of our skies, but thus far there exists no place where they can be developed in an integrated way. A few states like Oklahoma and Oregon have designated some airspace for UAV development, but flights have to be cleared with the FAA weeks in advance. Otherwise, drone aircraft have to be flown under 400 feet and within the operator's line of sight.
In other words, advanced unmanned commercial and military systems might as well have nowhere to fly at all. In the meantime, by not dragging its feet for another fifteen years, the UK will draw unmanned systems developers that are serious about integrating their robotic systems into a national airspace to its shores for development and testing. Bravo, FAA, bravo.
The civil use of aerial drones will no doubt only be used for law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's efforts to fight the "War at Home."
Imagine every square inch of surface area in the U.S. being constantly monitored. It'd be a step closer to bringing American society into the surveillance society (like the U.K., which is why Wales is jumping at the concept of a homebased droneport).
Privacy may yet soon cease to exist.
hey Pheonix1012, calm down dude...
Britain and the US are two totally different countries with two completely different views on surveillance.
google cctv cameras and great britain, last time i was in britain it seemed no matter where i was standing, i could see several cameras if i just turned my head 180 each way.
the amount of cameras in the UK is nothing like the US.. there are NO parallels between surveillance.. cheap or expensive.
When will people realize how freaking big the US is?
The UK is smaller than Wyoming in land area. Imagine the costs over surveying roughly 40 times the same area the UK does... scrub
The cost has NOTHING to do with it, it's public safety views. Britain only has cashiers in hospitals to pay YOU when you leave.
Public safety is just more important in the UK than the US.. southern US residents would call the UK 'a bunch of commies' and then claim that 'if they just let everyone have guns like we do, they wouldn't need all them cameras'