Aerial drone testing proposed for Central Oregon

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
By Paul Martin

BEND (AP) — Aerial drones could begin flying test runs over remote areas of Central Oregon in the near future, if a proposal to open a military operations area to the testing gets federal approval.

The unmanned aircraft are currently prohibited from flying in general airspace, and testing is usually allowed only in restricted military airspace, unless companies obtain special certificates.

That puts testing spots in high demand, and the opening of a new area could boost Central Oregon’s economy, according to the nonprofit Economic Development for Central Oregon, which proposed the idea.

Staff of Central Oregon’s congressional delegation were briefed on the proposal last week, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., plans to ask the Federal Aviation Administration if it’s feasible.

“We’re just beginning the process of going forward with this,” said Collins Hemingway, chair of Economic Development for Central Oregon’s aviation recruitment committee.

“There is nothing else like that in the country right now.”

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