Drone pilot program successfully reaches halfway mark

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SAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego announced its completion Friday of the first half of a pilot program on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in national airspace.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation selected San Diego last year as one of 10 cities, universities and state and local agencies to participate in the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program. Since being selected for the program in May 2018, the city has completed nearly 650 flights with 17 different types of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones, in both military and controlled airspace.

The FAA hopes to use data from the program to develop new regulations on low-altitude drone use in the airspace it oversees. The FAA has already approved drones for uses such as delivering packages, infrastructure inspection and acting as first responders.

“San Diego’s leadership in this program is the natural progression of airborne innovation,” said Tiffany Vinson, the city’s pilot program manager. “We look forward to continuing to leverage technology to improve the quality of life for all San Diegans.”

According to city surveys and public feedback, a majority of residents think drones are a net positive. In recent months, the city released a drone operating guide to answer some of the most commonly asked questions during its outreach efforts.

To access the operating guide as well as the city’s online feedback form for drone use, residents can visit sandiego.gov/uas.

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