Groups With Indiana Ties Part of Drone Discussions

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The Academy of Model Aeronautics says its membership is made up of everyone from hobbyists to engineers. The Academy of Model Aeronautics says its membership is made up of everyone from hobbyists to engineers.

Two organizations with Indiana connections are among a handful of representatives chosen by the U.S. Department of Transportation to help craft national registration regulations for unmanned aircraft systems. A task force is expected to deliver a report to the department within a month.

The nonprofit, Muncie-based Academy of Model Aircraft is part of the task force and joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta Monday for the announcement in Washington D.C. AMA Executive Director Dave Mathewson released a statement saying his group has already been using a registration similar to a possible model with its 180,000 members. "The term UAS has been applied to a broad range of platforms from toys with limited capabilities to large, sophisticated systems that weigh hundreds of pounds. Registration of UAS that meet an appropriate threshold of weight, capability and other safety-related characteristics makes sense, but it should not become a prohibitive burden for recreational users who fly for fun and educational purposes and who have operated harmoniously within our communities for decades." He adds education programs like the "Know Before You Fly campaign" will help "ensure the safety of our airspace for all."

The FAA says pilot sightings of drones doubled between 2014 and 2015 and it receives reports every day of potentially unsafe unmanned aircraft system operations, which range from incidents at major sporting events to interference with wildfire operations.

PrecisionHawk, which is headquartered in North Carolina and has an office in Noblesville was also part of Monday's announcement. A year ago, the company received $10 million in funding from a group of investors that included the Innovate Indiana Fund. PrecisionHawk said it plans to use the money to open another location and double its work force.

Federal officials are pushing to have the new regulations in place by Christmas.

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