Review to look at unmanned aircraft safety

By Mike M. Ahlers

From the “Flying Fish” seaplane to something with a wingspan of a Boeing jetliner, an expected surge in unmanned aircraft could pose a challenge for those responsible for keeping U.S. skies safe.

That’s why members of Congress influential on aviation matters have asked an independent government watchdog to review whether the Federal Aviation Administration is making progress on meeting a new law to develop a plan for managing that growth.

The agency estimates that unmanned aircraft could number 10,000 in five years.

“While the capabilities of unmanned aircraft have significantly improved, they have a limited ability to detect, sense, and avoid other air traffic,” Jeffrey Guzzetti, who handles aviation audits for the Transportation Department’s inspector general’s office, said in a memo announcing that agency’s examination of FAA preparedness.

More than 50 companies, universities and government organizations are developing and producing some 155 unmanned aircraft designs in the United States alone, according to the FAA.

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