(LAS VEGAS, KXNT)–The federal government has selected Nevada as one of six locations for development of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
The UAV testing could mean thousands of jobs that state officials say would average $62,000 in wages and involve an overall $2.5 billion dollar economic impact, and an estimated $125 million in state and local tax revenues.
The decision was hailed by Governor Brian Sandoval, who called the Monday announcement historic for Nevada.
“With the climate and air space of Nevada, we are uniquely equipped to help expand the development of UAVs. We have also partnered with private industry and academia to establish the curriculum necessary to create the UAS civilian workforce of the future in Nevada. Our state has been preparing for this selection and we are ready to enter this new era of aviation history.”
Sandoval praised Senator Harry Reid for what he called his ‘tireless’ work on the issue.
Nevada submitted an application for the drone development program in May of this year.
“The FAA designation of Nevada as a UAS Test Site is an incredible step forward for the State of Nevada,” said Steve Hill, Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “It allows us to establish a leadership role and be at the forefront of a new and important future industry”, he said.
The other states selected for drone development were Alaska, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.
Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs.
The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015. Officials concede it may take longer.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says safety is the first priority in moving drones into U.S. airspace.
(Associated Press contributed material to this article)