Drone industry predicts explosive economic boost

Posted: March 12, 2013 in Economy, Police State
Tags: ,

By Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


The impact of drones on privacy and national security remain matters of intense debate, but the economic impact, however, is becoming clearer by the day.

Private-sector drones will create more than 70,000 jobs within three years and will pump $82 billion into the U.S. economy by 2025, according to a major new study commissioned by the industry’s leading trade group, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The study assumes that drones are fully integrated into the national airspace by 2015, in line with the current schedule set byCongress.

Some states are poised to be especially big winners.

Virginia, for example, stands to gain nearly 2,500 jobs by 2017. It also could take in $4.4 million in tax revenue and see more than $460 million in overall economic activity by 2017, the report says.

Virginia would gain the seventh-most jobs of any state as a result of drone integration. Maryland isn’t far behind, with projections of more than 1,700 new jobs by 2017.

Florida, Texas, California, New York and Washington are among the other states expected to benefit the most, according to the study.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for an industry developing technology that will benefit society, as well as the economy,” said Michael ToscanoAUVSI president and CEO. The expansion of drones “means the creation of quality, high-paying American jobs.”

But the motivation behind Tuesday’s report runs deeper than just dollars and cents. With more than 20 states considering bills to limit what drones can do — including a two-year moratorium on all government use in Virginia — and at least a half-dozen similar measures being kicked around in Congress, the industry faces an uncertain future.

If  drones are restricted in several states or at the federal level, millions of dollars could be lost. First-responders such as police and fire departments are expected to be one of the largest markets for unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the study says, but they’d be barred in Virginia if the current proposal becomes law.

On another front, the Federal Aviation Administration appears to be in danger of missing the congressionally mandated September 2015 deadline to integrate drones into the national airspace. The agency only recently began taking applications for its test-site program, where drones will be studied to see how they respond in different climate conditions and at different altitudes.

More than 30 states have expressed interest in hosting those sites and reaping the economic benefits expected to come along with them.

It’s unclear, however, when the program will be fully established; further delays put the 2015 date in greater jeopardy.

The industry used Tuesday’s detailed study to highlight what’s at stake.

“Every year that we delay integration, the U.S. will lose more than $10 billion in total economic impact,” said Darryl Jenkins, lead author of the report and a former director of the Aviation Institute at George Washington University. Mr. Jenkins also is a past professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

He identified first-responders and the agriculture industry as the two biggest markets for UAS technology, though drones also have applications for media, the oil and gas industry and many other businesses.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/12/drone-industry-predicts-explosive-economic-boost/#ixzz2NLtzWhux
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