Not Drones…But Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Drones in Boulder City, Nevada

Photo: (c) Can Stock Photo |

I wish I’d heard earlier about last week’s informational meeting at City Hall on the FAA Drone Program – but I was clearly not paying enough attention to the City Haps and so I missed it.  #EpicFail

I do have the next best thing for us though…it’s a really informative document with all sorts of neat stuff, courtesy of the Community Development Department.

Here’s the top points that I thought you’d like – the first bit is general & the second is BC specific:

General Info

  • FAA announced the selection of the 6 test sites on December 30th, 2013, including Boulder City. The six sites were selected for their geographic and climate diversity, and for their planned focus on various aspects of UAV development, such as pilot training, the use of a variety of aircraft and the integration of drones into air traffic control systems
  • The correct term is “unmanned aircraft systems” or UAS, instead of UAV or drone, because it is a more complete and an accurate term. As the name suggests, UAS are complex systems made up of not only aircraft, but as well as supporting ground, air, and communications infrastructure.
  • UAS’s represent an emerging technology with broad, possible uses among many industries and government agencies. They could potentially provide benefits to many industries from farmers to firefighters, search and rescue, researchers, meteorologists and scientists. Also for BC, they could aid specifically to monitoring of renewable energy locations and the desert tortoise.
  • The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International projects an average salary range for a drone pilot between $85,000 and $115,000.

Boulder City Specific Info

  • The plan for Boulder City range is the operation of small (under 55 pound) UASs with the initial operations being ground ops, transitioning to air operations in the Eldorado Valley and eventually launches from the Boulder City Airport.  There are approximately 5 test areas within the Boulder City test range, limiting the number of UAS operations occurring at one time.
  • All operations will be coordinated with the City.  Notices to pilots (NOTAMs) will be issued in advance, advisories on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) will be announced, the UAS activity will be line of site (operator will have eye contact with the UAV at all times), and the UAV’s will operated at a low altitude.
  • Manufacturing of these aircraft could potentially be based at Boulder City bringing construction and industry related jobs. In addition, opportunities for college and vocational schooling in Boulder City to train future UAS pilots and mechanics.
  • By October 1, 2015, UASs will be operating in the National Air Space.

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