EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

April 14, 2014

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

Excerpts from recent editorials in other New England newspapers:

When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos dazzled "60 Minutes" interviewer Charlie Rose a while back with his supposed plan to deliver products with drone aircraft, he glossed over the obstacles that stand in his way.

"There's no reason they can't be used as delivery vehicles," he said at the time. Then he acknowledged that it won't happen before 2015 because that's the earliest the Federal Aviation Administration will set the rules. And that, he added, may be a little optimistic.

Amazon isn't the only commercial company that's eager to put drone aircraft to work. So would other cargo carriers such as UPS and FedEx, but so also would any business that currently sends people to check on pipelines, cell towers and other infrastructure.

The fact is, the United States lags the rest of the world when it comes to letting unmanned aircraft deploy in the service of commercial business. Only now is the FAA setting up test ranges where operators can fly drones in commercial airspace. At this pace, it will be years before business owners can add them to their management toolkits.

It doesn't have to be this way. The government can accelerate the pace of commercial deployments, while continuing to protect public safety, as it does with commercial aviation.

A group of pilotless aircraft companies and advocates called for expedited rulemaking on commercial drone flights by the FAA. "The current regulatory void has left American entrepreneurs and others either sitting on the sidelines or operating in the absence of appropriate safety guidelines," they said in a letter to the agency.

The FAA's plan to roll out test ranges had to be imposed upon it by Congress, which ordered the agency to produce a set of rules governing the use of drones by September 2015.

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