State Capitol News
8:40 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Arizona's Bid to Become a Drone Test Site Rejected

The state’s bid to become a test site for unmanned drones was rejected today as federal officials picked six other proposals. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Credit Huffingtonpost.com

Congress directed the Federal Aviation Administration last year to select six sites around the country to test the vehicles to be sure they can be safely integrated into airspace with piloted aircraft. Arizona submitted its own proposal citing the wide-open spaces and good year-round weather. But the FAA instead chose two other sites in the Southwest — Nevada and Texas — along with Alaska, New York, North Dakota and Virginia. But Rep. Tom Forese, who was involved in the push, said the announcement may not be a total loss.

“This is a setback,” Forese said. “But right now what’s being done is Arizona is looking to partner up with one of the states that did get a contract.”

Forese said that, if nothing else, the state might be able to help train the pilots who will be flying the remote-controlled aircraft. Forese also said he believes politics was involved in the final selection. But, pressed for specifics, he provided little more than a generic charge.

“Well, is there anything that’s not political?” Forese said.

The FAA decision to select other sites comes despite the fact that Gov. Jan Brewer made a personal bid for the contract earlier this year, meeting in Washington with officials from the FAA and the Department of Transportation.