Local Pilots Express Safety Concerns Over 'Non-Eye Safe' Laser Tests
The FAA has designated seven areas of airspace over the Camp Grafton military base in North Dakota to fly Predator UAVs for training and testing purposes. The airspace set aside is between 8,000 and 14,000, and has caused some local pilots to express concern about safety when the UAVs are flying.
Slate magazine reports that the areas will be the site of what are described as "non-eye-safe" laser tests utilizing the Predators, which has been a concern since the restricted areas were proposed last November. Comments received by the FAA were overwhelmingly opposed to the restricted areas, with pilots and associations expressing concerns about possible collision hazards and changes in civilian flight corridors. Comments also focused on the potential hazards posed by the lasers to people on the ground.
The FAA said that there could be some impact of civilian flight training and other operations, but that as long as aircraft did not stray into the altitudes used by the UAVs there should be no conflict and normal routes could be used.
A primary concern seems to be the slow pace for development of "Sense and Avoid" technology which will prevent UAVs from colliding with other aircraft. The FAA has set September 30th, 2015 as the date in which it expect full integration of UAVs into the NAS.