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House Acts to Create Unmanned Aircraft Task Force

Friday, March 29, 2013, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House of Representatives today unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 6, sponsored by Representative Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, which establishes a Legislative Task Force on Unmanned Aircraft Systems and recognizes the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Integration at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“Alaska can be at the forefront of our nation as one of the Federal Aviation Administration’s six test sites to advance the technology of unmanned aircraft systems,” Hughes said. “Alaska will benefit from job growth and new businesses moving to our great state.”

A March 2013 report from the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems Integration stated that in the first three years of integration into the National Airspace, more than 70,000 new jobs will be created and the total economic impact is projected to surpass $13.6 billion. “I want Alaska to receive a big slice of the pie,” Hughes said.

The Task Force is made of private industry users, government officials, and those with the technological expertise. “This is a good mix of professionals and private citizens who can make policy recommendations to this body,” Hughes said. The Task Force will make recommendations regarding the use of unmanned aircraft and address privacy concerns. It is important to embrace this technology and safeguard our privacy with a well thought out approach.

Unmanned aircraft have been used in Alaska for some years doing jobs that are determined “dull, dirty, and dangerous.” Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UA Systems) helped with guiding the oil tanker to Nome to restock their tank farm in the winter, locating a downed airplane near Bethel a few months ago, and have even been used for accurately counting sea lions that kept them off of the endangered species list. The missions that UA Systems have successfully completed have protected pilots that would have been flying in inclement weather and have conducted research in an economical fashion with reduced risk to human and animal lives.

HCR 6 now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

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