Florida is not giving up its hope to become a hub of drone research and production. Space Florida, the state agency charged with aerospace economic development in Florida, announced today that it was continuing with its plan to research and develop drone technology despite not being selected as one of six national drone development sites.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced yesterday that it had chosen Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia as national drone testing sites among 25 states who applied. Test sites were chosen based on diverse climates, geography and air traffic environments as well as economic and infrastructural factors. The states chosen do not receive any federal funding, but the areas selected are expected to develop into regional hubs for drone research, development and production.
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Space Florida statement
“I was disappointed, clearly, that Florida was not selected,” Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello said in an interview with Florida Today. “The fact that we aren’t an FAA-designated test site doesn’t mean we won’t be a national test site of own…We are well placed in this industry.”
Di Bello went on to say that the $1.5 million Space Florida spent seeking to become a part of the FAA program would pay off over the long term, as Florida would continue to try and attract companies developing drone vehicles and sensors.
Drone industry potential
The drone industry is likely to be an economic boon wherever it develops. Economic projections indicate more than 70,000 jobs will be created in the first three years after a national drone policy is formulated and drones legalized, according to the Associated Press. That study also predicts that a drone pilot will be paid a salary between $85,000 and $115,000.
Space Florida’s FAA proposal included 12 cutting-edge drone ranges spread across four areas of the state, including a base in Cape Canaveral, and also boasted a mobile flight tracking system.