The number of commercial drone permits issued by the Federal Aviation Administration soared to 714 at the end of June, up from 51 permits issued through March. The agency is using temporary standards to evaluate permit applications; permanent rules won't be in place until next year.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the agency plans to hire 10,000 air traffic controllers over the next 10 years. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, meet age requirements and be willing to relocate to one of 315 FAA sites across the U.S. Applicants must also display "three years of progressively responsible work experience, or a Bachelor's degree, or a combination of education and work experience that totals three years."
Despite furloughing more than 15,000 employees, the Federal Aviation Administration says it has enough personnel in key safety and inspection roles on hand to ensure flight safety during the government shutdown. "The FAA has prepared a contingency plan in which air traffic controllers and other essential employees will continue working in order to maintain the safety of the national airspace system," said Kristie Greco, an assistant FAA administrator for communications, in a statement.
Though the Federal Aviation Administration says it still may have to close air traffic control towers at 149 small-and medium-size airports operated by contractors, it says it will keep towers at mid-size airports open at night. The FAA formerly said it would have to cut tower service at night at the mid-size airports, but Congress passed a measure to make funding available so the towers can stay open during overnight shifts.
Officials at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida have until Wednesday to respond to the Federal Aviation Administration about why the airport's air traffic control tower should be kept open. "Negative impact on the national interest is the only criterion the FAA will use for deciding to continue services to an airport that falls below the activity threshold," according to a letter from the FAA. Organizers of the Lakeland-based Sun 'n Fun Fly-In say they are set to hire private air traffic controllers if necessary.