San Diego Business Journal

FAA Leaves Southern California Out of ‘Drone Zone’ Designations

By Brad Graves Monday, December 30, 2013

A proposed “Drone Zone” will not be coming to Southern California.

One of several such zones will be coming to neighboring Nevada, however.

The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six areas where inventors will be allowed to experiment with unmanned aerial vehicles. The FAA made its list public on Dec. 30.

The areas include Nevada and North Dakota.

Griffiss International Airport in upstate New York is a third location. The site was previously a U.S. Air Force base.

A University of Alaska zone will take in test ranges in Hawaii and Oregon.

A fifth zone will be run by Texas A&M University is in Corpus Christi.

A Virginia Tech zone will include locations in Virginia and New Jersey.

San Diego business advocates, who spoke with the Business Journal earlier this year, said the FAA had the potential to increase area business by establishing a Southern California test range.

San Diego already has a robust unmanned aircraft community. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. of Poway builds unmanned military aircraft and sensors here. Northrop Grumman centers its unmanned military aircraft business in Rancho Bernardo. Datron World Communications of Vista markets small drones to law enforcement. 3D Robotics of Kearny Mesa and Tijuana makes small drones, software and components; it sells to hobbyists and is researching business applications for drones.