Public perception of civil and commercial uses for unmanned aircraft systems is positive

Based on new Poll data released by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) at the Paris Air Show
The findings also indicate public opinion that governments should resolve challenges such as perceived privacy issues and UAS airspace regulations in order to increase non-military use.  The Christian Science Monitor conducted the poll among its on-line readers.

“This poll demonstrates significant support for civilian UAS applications among the populace, both in America and internationally,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey.  “The U.S. aerospace industry is now escalating its role in supporting government actions that will provide extensive new benefits from UAS.”

The poll findings include the following:

  • Only 25 percent of the public is “very well aware” of current and potential non-military uses for UAS
  • Border protection, law enforcement surveillance and search and rescue are the top three perceived, non-military uses for UAS
  • 54 percent of the public favors increased non-military use of UAS (20 percent neutral, 27 percent opposed)
  • Privacy and safety are the top issues the public wants government to resolve relative to UAS in order to increase civil use

UAS are currently in use in a wide variety of applications worldwide, from monitoring flooding in the Czech Republic to wildlife conservation efforts in South Africa.  One area where the United States could see significant benefit is in fighting wildfires – such as the historically damaging fires burning in Colorado this week – because UAS can fly in conditions where human pilots would be unable to see because of the conditions.

Safe integration of UAS into the national airspace system is a top priority for industry.  “Unmanned aircraft are a natural complement to air traffic control developments like NextGen and SESAR,” said Aurora Flight Sciences Chairman and CEO John S. Langford.  “The technology under development will actually make the skies safer for everyone.”

“UAS are the future of the aerospace and defense industry, but we need some serious changes in how we license these systems for export in order to compete for that business,” said Frank Pace. “This poll shows public support for a broad range of applications; if we aren’t allowed to build and export these products, we’ll lose jobs and high-tech capabilities in our workforce.”

Research indicates the worldwide market for UAS over the next decade would exceed $89 billion and create more than 100,000 jobs.

A summary of the poll results can be found here.

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