Six US teams have been given permission to build and test drones, with the FAA green-lighting several test sites across the country as it figures out how safe, useful, and easy to fly unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) might be. The six sites - University of Alaska, the State of Nevada, New York's Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, and Virginia Tech - will collectively examine how drones operate in wildly different climates, how they best navigate, how they'll co-exist in the sky with traditional aircraft, how 'smart' they can be made, and what qualifications remote pilots should have.
Jeff Bezos sees a future where Amazon packages are delivered to customers soon after an order is placed with the use of drones -- in this case, with so-called octocopters. Drones have already seen use in other applications, among them being the movie industry where the devices are fixed with cameras and used to record otherwise difficult shots. While the technology exists and varieties of uses for it are cropping up at increasingly rapid rates, there's one big barrier in the way: the FAA.
Though the vote of 3-2 knocks out a technical ban in the FCC, the rule against using cellphones to make calls in-flight is still being left up to the Department of Transportation to make a final ruling on here near the end of 2013. This week's vote was a close one. The FCC's meeting today had FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler taking special care to note that this vote does not instantly grant travelers the right to make a phone call on their next flight - there's still voting to be done before that's all well and good.
Beginning as early as December of this year, you will soon be allowed to power-on and use approved electronic devices during all stages of the flight on most Europe-based airlines. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) this week issued a ruling to that effect, following a similar ruling by the US's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last month. Like the FAA, EASA will allow Wi-Fi enabled devices to be turned on, but not cellular radios.
Amazon has decidedly announced their full support of the new FAA ruling for in-flight device use with not only a suggestion that they've always done so, but that they're willing to let their device prices prove it. Amazon Kindle prices have been kicked down a notch for a single day by the company suggesting they're excited their users will be able to read throughout the flight, not just once they've reached 10,000 feet.
Under a new FAA ruling, commercial flight passengers flying within the US will now be able to use smartphones, tablets, laptops, MP3 players and some other small electronics during all parts of flights. There are, however, some limitations, the most obvious of which is that passengers still can't make or receive calls or text messages.
It was way back in March when word surfaced that the FAA was holding a study into the safety of allowing electronics use during takeoff on flights, and not too long ago that a decision was finally made, granting the freedom to do so with some contingencies on board. Fortunately for frequent fliers, it didn't take long for a couple airlines to get their ducks in order, with both Delta and JetBlue becoming the first to allow use.
About a week ago, a company called World View unveiled plans to send passengers on a balloon ride that will take them to an altitude of around 100,000 feet for $75,000 per ticket. World View said at the time that it was announcing its plans ahead of a public determination to be made by the FAA. The capsule used by World View was expected to be classified as a spacecraft and to be forced to meet guidelines for space travel.
Restrictions on using electronic devices during takeoff and landing could be lifted, after a regulatory committee told the FAA to loosen its guidelines on when gadgets like iPads, Kindles, and other hardware can be turned on. The recommendation by the Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which comes after a year-long investigation into the potential safety issues, is believed to include select smaller gadgets, while laptops and other larger hardware would still need to be stowed, albeit for physical reasons of potential crash danger, rather than because of whatever electrical signals they might give out.