Friday July 26, 2013 0 comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet and Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake are co-sponsoring an amendment that would create two additional test sites for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that would focus on fighting wildfires that have devastated forests in the Western U.S. in recent years.
"Extreme wildfires have become an all-too-common occurrence in Colorado, leaving families without homes and hundreds of thousands of charred acreage in their paths," Bennet said.
"We need to employ every tool available to help firefighters in their battles. This bipartisan amendment will help us develop UAS technology and teach us more about how they can strengthen our fights against wildfires more quickly and safely."
"In the wake of Arizona's Yarnell Hill fire and the tragic loss of 19 firefighters, we owe it to the families of those who perished and all who face wildfire threats to better understand how UAS technology can help fight fires and save lives," said Flake.
"Colorado is ready to work with the FAA in any capacity to complete UAS NAS integration and, as a result, start generating the economic and citizen value these platforms provide," said Stan VanderWerf, UAS Colorado executive director.
The FAA is soliciting bids from states to establish six UAS testing sites, and Colorado and Arizona have both submitted applications with dozens of others. A final decision by the FAA is expected in December.
Colorado Senators Bennet and Mark Udall, along with five Colorado members of the House of Representatives and Gov. John Hickenlooper, sent a letter of support to the FAA in May.
The latest amendment by Bennet and Flake would add two additional test sites that would focus in part on wildfire monitoring, mitigation and containment.