Congress Votes to Allow Drones Over U.S. Skies

Congress has approved a bill that allows remote controlled drones to be used in the same airspace over America as commercial airliners, private planes, and cargo jets. $63.4 billion will be allocated for the FAA over the next three and a half years, $11 of which will be used to upgrade air traffic control systems, by June 15 2015, at 35 US airports to handle the remote-controlled aircrafts.

The change to flight regulations will allow military, commercial, and private drones to fly over the same US territory. Currently, drones are only allowed over certain military airspace, along US borders for surveillance purposes, and to about 300 public agencies, according to the Associated Press. The FAA must submit its plan for how to safely allow wide-spread drone flight within nine months of the bill’s passage.

In addition to drones the FAA will also update to a more precise GPS system, known as Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B. Once ADS-B is in place, aircraft will be outfitted with new technology that will update their locations every second, as opposed to the six to 12 second intervals allowed by the current system. This will allow planes to come into runways at a steeper decent, fly closer together, and land and take off more quickly.

The addition of ADS-B is part of a massive FAA endeavor known as NextGen. According to the FAA, the roll out of NexGen will allow for fewer delays, fewer accidents, a lower environmental impact, and stronger national security, among a slew of other benefits.

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