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Congress passes FAA Bill, allows drones in the US sky

US: After a five-year legislative struggle and more than two dozen short-term extensions, the US Congress passed a bill that gives the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) USD 11 billion to upgrade air traffic controls of the nation’s 35 busiest airports from radar to GPS. It also opens the US skies for military, commercial and privately-owned unmanned drone flights within four years. These will be allowed to fly in the same airspace as airliners, cargo planes, business jets and private aircraft.
The House passed the bill last week, and it was just passed in the Senate by a 75 – 20 vote in this week. In addition to the USD 11 billion for upgrading the air traffic system, the FAA will also receive USD 63.4 billion over the next four years. 
“The bill is the best news that the airline industry ever had,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said. “It will take us into a new era.”
The new GPS system is merely the start of an overall plan for a 50-percent growth in air traffic over the next decade. And while other nations have abandoned radar for GPS tracking already, the FAA has moved cautiously because the US plays host to the world’s most complicated airspace — it even has a greater and more varied private aviation than other countries. The US also accounts for 35-percent of global commercial air traffic, thus the FAA was understandably cautious about disrupting the overall busy network with an upgrade.
The deadline for the conversion to GPS is June 2015.
Source: www.chicagotribune.com