A possible federal testing site in southern Indiana for drone aircraft holds the possibility of a big economic-development boost for the state.
The Federal Aviation Administration is considering where to place six testing areas for drones, in part to help formulate air-traffic policies to keep manned and unmanned planes out of each other‘s way.
Indiana and Ohio have submitted a joint bid. No one‘s sure what the economic impact would be, but the unmanned-aircraft industry is adding jobs at a rate of about four-percent a year, and is expected to be a $94 billion industry in seven years.
If Indiana lands the site, Ninth District Congressman Todd Young predicts “enormous” job growth, with corporate research-and-development operations flocking to the area.
“Drones are being used to measure moisture content, crop density and other things so that we can improve yields,” Young says. “Indiana, having a very large agriculture presence, stands to benefit from development of this technology.”
Indiana‘s entire congressional delegation signed a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, touting Indiana as a logical choice.
The delegation says Indiana‘s varying climate and terrain would allow testing under different conditions, and points out the military training areas at Muscatatuck and Camp Atterbury are nearby.
There‘s no word on how many bids have been received nor when the government will make a decision.