Idaho company considers future hub for freight drones

Nov 22nd, 2016 | By | Category: Pocatello News

Empire Unmanned DronePOCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — The founder of an Idaho company that introduced the use of drones in agriculture is dreaming bigger — literally.

Empire Unmanned founder Steve Edgar is considering using Pocatello Regional Airport as a future hub for possible freight-carrying drones, reported The Capital Press (http://bit.ly/2eZjXr0 ). Edgar spoke about the possibility and the future of aerial shipping at Idaho State University last week.

It could be more than 10 years before the Boeing 747-size drones he envisions are hauling cargo, Edgar acknowledged, but he still plans to analyze the infrastructure at the airport and the surrounding community next year.

Pocatello is ideal because it has an under-served airport surrounded by open space, is a stop on a major rail line and has easy access to two interstate highways, Edgar said. He also pointed to expertise provided by the university and Idaho National Laboratory.

Airport Manager David Allen said the city should study how to best position itself if other investors share Edgar’s enthusiasm

“I think it’s worth looking at this,” he said. “It would be a fun bone to chew on.”

Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration only allows commercial drones to be flown within the pilot’s line of sight. Edgar said he is optimistic that the FAA will allow pilots to fly drones outside their vision sometime next year.

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Information from: The Capital Press (Ore.), http://www.capitalpress.com/washington

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