The economic benefit of integrating unmanned air systems (UAS) into the US national airspace could be as high as $13.6 billion within the first three years, according to an industry study.

The study, sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), concludes that integrating civil UAS for things like mapping, weather monitoring and oil exploration could lead to a more than $82 billion impact by 2025. The UAS manufacturing industry has been vocal about inclusion of UAS, dismissing the fears of civil rights advocates.

UAS are largely banned from US national airspace (NAS) due to safety concerns, presently able to fly under strict controls dictated by the FAA. While the FAA is legally bound to pass rules governing small UAS by 2015, few concrete examples of progress are to be found.

The AUVSI report says that California is likely to be the state that benefits most, given the large aerospace manufacturing capabilities and vast pool of potential users. But the paper does not take into account the pushback from civil rights groups, which strongly oppose UAVs on privacy grounds. In California, as in other states, groups have been pushing to outlaw UAVs, especially in the hands of law enforcement.

Source: Flight International