SAN DIEGO–The City of San Diego has reached the half-way mark of a pilot program that aims to safely and successfully integrate drones into the national airspace.
Selected by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation, San Diego was among 10 agencies nationwide chosen to participate in the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP). With rapidly increasing commercial and private use of UAS technologies, also commonly referred to as drones, the FAA aims to craft new policies that support more complex low-altitude drone operations and their full-scale integration into the national airspace.
In the first half of the drone pilot program, the City of San Diego’s IPP team has operated more than 640 flights using 17 different types of aircraft. These flights have been conducted in various classifications of airspaces including military and controlled airspace. Partners in the program have received various approvals and authorizations from the FAA for complex drone operations ranging from package delivery to using drones as a first responder, including the first Beyond Visual Line of Sight provision to a public safety agency.
San Diego has a long history of aviation pioneering. John J. Montgomery made the first controlled flight in Otay Mesa 20 years before the Wright Brothers’ flight and Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis was designed, built and tested in San Diego. San Diego is also the birthplace of naval aviation.
“San Diego’s leadership in this program is the natural progression of airborne innovation,” said Tiffany Vinson, City of San Diego’s UAS IPP Program Manager. “We look forward to continuing to leverage technology to improve the quality of life for all San Diegans.”
As part of the program, the City of San Diego continues to collect public feedback and remains committed to maintaining an open dialogue with residents about drone use. Through multiple outreach events and an online survey, results have found a majority of residents believe drones will have a net positive impact on their lives. The feedback received also showed residents are most excited to see drones used by first responders and for infrastructure inspections.
In response to survey results and public feedback, the City of San Diego has released a drone operator guide to answer commonly asked questions.
If the public is interested in learning more about San Diego’s UAS IPP, they can read the San Diego UAS Integration Pilot Program: 2018 in Review or visit the City’s UAS website.