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Will Air Ambulance Drones Soon be a Reality?


The drone industry worldwide has been fast turning into a multimillion dollar industry, even as the US has struggled to catch up with the trend. The reason primarily has been the reluctance of FAA to allow the free use of drones in the US airspace. Even though there have been calls for use of drones as air ambulance, there has been little headway. However, it seems like air ambulance drones are now an inch closer to becoming a reality as FAA has agreed upon a few drone testing sites. It has also approved a few exceptions for commercial use of drones, although air ambulance is not one of them. Will air ambulance be one of these exemptions soon is what industry watchers are eagerly awaiting.

It’s No to Air Ambulance Drones for Now, but there’s Hope

The exemptions that FAA has approved currently does not include air ambulance drone use for commercial purpose, however, it has let drones in areas such as:

  • Flare stack inspections
  • Aerial photography and surveys
  • Film and television production

FAA is also in the process of developing regulations that will pave way for use of drones that weigh less than 55 pounds.

FAA had received 342 exception requests and only approved 24 out of them. It is to be seen whether it allows commercial air ambulance drones soon.

The Way has been Cleared for Air Ambulance Drone Testing

FAA has approved several sites for drone testing in the United States in conjunction with its partners, which include:

  • University of Alaska
  • State of Nevada
  • Griffiss Airport, New York
  • North Dakota Dept of Commerce
  • Texas A&M University
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
  • Alpena County Regional Airport, Michigan

The North Dakota site is already open for drone testing and commercial air ambulance drones can be tested here. However, the individuals and organizations that plan to test air ambulance or any other type of drones will have to seek permission from FAA first. It is believed that almost two-thirds of North Dakota will be open for testing soon – a great news for air ambulance drone developers. FAA has also opened testing sites which is another place that air ambulance drone developers can look at.

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