AP Exclusive: Drones left out of air traffic plans

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Designers of the ambitious U.S. air traffic control system of the future neglected to take drones into account.

That's raising questions about whether it can handle the escalating demand for the unmanned aircraft and the predicted congestion in the sky.

Congress passed legislation creating the program in 2003, and directed the Federal Aviation Administration to accommodate all types of aircraft, including drones.

The NextGen system still isn't expected to be completed for at least another decade.

It's replacing radar and radio communications, technologies rooted in the early 20th century, with satellite-based navigation and digital communications.

The further it progresses, the more difficult it becomes to make changes.