Texas University Looks to Land Spot in National Drone Program

A federal program that aims to significantly expand the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in national airspace within the next three years could have a Texas component.

On Monday, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, with support from Gov. Rick Perry's office, will submit an application to the Federal Aviation Administration with the hope that Texas will be selected as one of the testing sites for the controversial aircraft. If the application is approved, it could mean more than 8,200 jobs and an economic impact of $6.5 billion over the next 12 years for the state, according to the governor's office.

But property owners and local governments are raising questions about how the program could affect individuals' privacy and whether more unmanned aircraft will make the skies dangerous. 

The application is being spearheaded by A&M-Corpus Christi through its Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Initiative, which stems, in part, from the FAA's Modernization and Reform Act, passed in February 2012. The act requires the FAA to work with the Department of Defense and NASA to develop the site-testing program. The goal of the program, according to the FAA, is to work on "the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System." Texas is one of more than three-dozen U.S. states vying to be home to one of six sites. The FAA is expected to make its decision by the end of this year.

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