San Diego County leaders unanimously support effort to land drone test site in Southern California
Last Updated: 74 days ago
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors this week threw its unanimous support behind a proposal submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration to test unmanned aerial systems and vehicles in Southern California.
Several agencies, including the San Diego Military Advisory Council and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, proposed a testing area stretching from Bridgeport to the U.S.-Mexico border, from the state line to 100 miles west into the ocean. It would exclude Los Angeles.
The majority of testing would be over unpopulated areas, and would not impact local airports, according to Supervisor Ron Roberts.
The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) testing site would become one of six in the nation, with a decision anticipated in December.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 mandates the FAA integrate UAS into the national airspace.
California is one of 24 states that has applied to host a drone testing range, according to the FAA.
Supervisor Dianne Jacobs said it would be a significant accomplishment for the region to be selected.
"I'm impressed with the fact that this will bolster our economy, (result in) much-needed jobs and create additional economic activity -- and also put us on the front lines of these unmanned drones' development," Jacob said.
Roberts said companies developing the aircraft and systems, like Northrop Grumman and General Atomics, are already operating in San Diego County, and fostering growth is necessary to retain benefits and jobs. He cited a study showing that in 2011, the industry accounted for 7,100 jobs and $1.2 billion in economic activity locally.
"As the world moves forward with UAV technology, I have no doubt that we will experience valuable benefits to public safety and emergency services," Roberts said.
He said that not receiving the test site designation would entice industry businesses to leave the county, taking their jobs and economic benefits with them.
County staff was directed draw up a letter of support to be sent to an FAA official and to monitor the operations in the county for a year and report back.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.