RIVERSIDE – Business and military interests are pressing for much of Southern California’s airspace to be declared a test range for drone aircraft, it was reported today.
The UT San Diego newspaper and website reported that the boost is coming from the San Diego Military Advisory Council and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. They report that 7,135 are directly or indirectly employed by drone makers in San Diego County.
The proposed drone test zone would extend from Edwards Air Force Base, just north of Lancaster, west to the Pacific Ocean and south to the Mexican border, UT San Diego reported. Most of Riverside County could be in the proposed zone.
It is intended to give an economic boost to a cluster of drone manufacturers in San Diego, including Northrup Grumman in Rancho Bernardo and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in Poway, UT San Diego reported. Northrup Grumman also has a large drone works near Lancaster.
The FAA plans to create six test zones in the U.S. as it seeks technology and operational advances to integrate pilotless aircraft into the U.S. airspace.
About 40 applications have been filed from across the country from localities anxious to host the drone test areas.
The Navy has already announced plans to base unmanned spy planes for international intelligence gathering at Point Mugu, west of Malibu.
UTSanDiego quoted the ACLU as warning that current privacy laws are not strong enough to protect Americans against unreasonable surveillance.