Industry watchers ponder future of drones at local conference

By Carol Lawrence

Drone manufacturers and users need to be patient while the Federal Aviation Administration goes through the steps to get them safely and properly into the air, an aviation official told industry watchers Tuesday in Thousand Oaks.

Keith Ballenger, an assistant division manger of the Federal Aviation Administration, spoke before an audience of companies that play in one of the nation’s newest technologies — unmanned aircraft systems.

Ballenger’s division handles safety and certifications for the FAA, and that is key to getting unmanned aircraft systems certified and regulated by the federal agency.

Ballenger spoke on the first night of a three-day symposium on drones and their potential for civilian. The event at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza hotel was organized by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The aviation veteran told the audience what the FAA is up against as it attempts to come up with rules, regulations and ways to evaluate the safety of unmanned aircraft.

“The big quandary within the FAA is: How do we begin to manage that technology?” Ballenger said.

Small unmanned systems, those that weigh less than 50 pounds, are where the FAA will see the bulk of its work, Ballenger said.

The FAA is undergoing what Ballenger called a “huge paradigm shift” as it tries to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the airspace over the nation used by most civilian aircraft.
Read more:—uavconffaa/?goback=%2Egde_941207_member_227007557#ixzz2PCN9dhcJ