…we are now on the edge of a new horizon: using unmanned aerial systems within the homeland. Currently, there are about 200 active Certificates of Authorization issued by the Federal Aviation Administration to over 100 different entities, such as law enforcement departments and academic institutions, to fly drones domestically. This map shows the location of COA recipients as of April 2012. The number of recipients since that time has increased.The FAA plans to select six test sites around the country for the use of nongovernment drones this year and plans to allow the deployment of nongovernment drones nationwide by 2015.While the FAA is responsible for ensuring these systems fly safely in US airspace, with only two and a half short years until drones begin to dominate the skies in the US homeland, no federal agency is taking the lead to deal with the full implications of using unmanned aerial systems and developing the relevant policies and guidelines for their use. This is despite the fact that four years ago the Government Accountability Office recommended the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the TSA Administrator to examine the security implications of future, non-military UAS operations in the national airspace system and take any actions deemed appropriate.
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