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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: NTSB Forum to Focus On UAV Operations

COMMERCIAL | SAFETY

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will hold a three-day forum on the safety of unmanned aircraft systems.

The forum will be convened April 29 to May 1 at NTSB Headquarters in Washington. It is intended to help the board and interested parties better understand the safety implications of the growing use of drones in U.S. civil airspace.

The forum will discuss regulatory standards, integration in the national airspace, the views of current drone operators, the design, certification, and airworthiness of those aircraft, human factors in their use, and future applications of them.

The forum follows the board’s investigation of a Predator B drone crash near Nogales, Ariz., in April 2006, which resulted in 22 recommendations to address safety deficiencies in civilian use of unmanned aircraft.

"The Nogales accident surfaced a number of important questions that need to be addressed" if drones are to operate safely in the national airspace, said Board Member Kitty Higgins, who will chair the forum.

The forum will include military, industry, and FAA officials, as well as those of other U.S. government agencies involved in drone operations.

A live and archived webcast of the forum will be available on the NTSB web site at www.ntsb.gov.

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