By Emily McCord
Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS, was the focus of an informational meeting Wednesday in Xenia. Ohio has partnered with Indiana and applied to become one of six national centers for unmanned systems and Congressman Mike Turner with the Dayton Development Coalition held the meeting to build awareness about what UAS could bring to Ohio.
Right now, The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of selecting these test sites to help the industry safely move into national airspace. Unmanned Aerial Systems, which includes what are commonly called drones, could be used anything from surveillance, to first responder uses, to helping farmers detect blight on their crops. Congressman Mike Turner says if Dayton is picked, the region and the state will reap the benefits.
“This is an emerging industry. This is like the innovation of the automobile. We’re there. We’re at the table and we’re going to be part of the explosion,” says Turner.
The Dayton Development Coalition projects that the UAS industry could grow over $82 billion over the next ten years. Maurice McDonald with the coalition says he’s confident Ohio can get FAA approval, in part because of research centers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, as well as the commercial businesses surrounding the defense industry and manufacturing.
“And if you look at the assets that Ohio has, and all the capabilities we have today, we’re already way down that path where a lot of organizations and other states are not. They may have one major capability. We have several,” says McDonald.
McDonald and others at the meeting say the region is planning to capitalize on Unmanned Aerial Systems regardless of whether or not Ohio is designated as a test site. The FAA is expected to make its decision by the end of this year.