- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

ELKO, Nev. (AP) - Economic development officials in northeast Nevada are trying to get approval to do commercial drone testing in Elko County.

County officials considered the proposal at a meeting last week, but decided that a number of questions have to be answered before they go forward with the plan.

The Elko Daily Free Press reports (https://tinyurl.com/ktzhzbl ) the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority and the Elko Regional Airport want to contract with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems to establish specific areas where the testing of the unmanned aircraft could take place.

They have their eye on areas near the SnoBowl ski and bike park and the Northeastern Nevada Regional Railport.

Airport director Mark Gibbs said both sites are outside the airport’s 5-mile buffer zone, as required. He said the testing could help diversify the area’s economy.

Commissioners said they’ll revisit the plan at a future meeting.

Commission Chairman Demar Dahl said he had a lot of questions about drones, but liked the opportunity for economic development.

Among other things, Dahl said he wants to know whether the person flying the drone from the ground would be able to detect incoming air travel of small planes.

Gibbs said the operator would need to have the drone in sight at all times and should be able to maneuver it away.

Chief Civil Deputy District Attorney Kristin McQueary worried that there was no commercial access across the railroad to the interior of the railport.

The testing range would consist of a 500-by-2,000-foot area extending 1,000 feet into the sky.

About 1,500 feet of runway would be used for takeoff and landing.

Gibbs said there would be no upfront costs to the county, and County Manager Rob Stokes said the county could charge a user fee.

Nevada was one of six states chosen in December 2013 for drone testing while the Federal Aviation Administration develops operating regulations.

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Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, https://www.elkodaily.com


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