06-06-17 Wilson helps Colorado stay ahead of new drone technology

Wilson helps Colorado stay ahead of new drone technology

DENVER—Yesterday afternoon, the governor signed legislation creating a study on the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, to help the state and local municipalities fight wildfire. House Bill 1070, sponsored by Representative Jim Wilson (R-Salida), is a first-of-its-kind program to help study how drones can help the state fight wildfires, potentially lowing the state’s reliance on manned aircraft.
Specifically, the bill creates a UAS pilot program and authorizes the Department of Labor and Employment to provide resources for the training and development of eligible pilot program members. The program will be funded through gifts, grants and donations, and the results of the study and the pilot program are to be submitted to the Wildfire Matters Review Committee and the Judiciary committees of the General Assembly.

“More and more money is being invested in drone technology, this bill studies how that new technology can help Colorado fight wildfires,” said Wilson. “Drones have tremendous potential to survey ground and relay data without the cost of manned aircraft and the risk of putting pilots in the sky.

“I am grateful for the strong bipartisan support and very excited to see the outcome of this study.”
The new law is already drawing interest from other states. Wendell Pryor, the Director of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation, added the following statement on the new law:

“This legislation will help Colorado maintain its leadership role in aerospace nationally and internationally, having the second largest concentration of aerospace industries in the country. The legislation with widespread industry support and its specific focus on public safety, positions the state as a worldwide leader in aerial firefighting in a proactive way to utilize the technology.”
Chaffee County has a national and international reputation for high altitude testing of manned aircraft. This legislation allows Chaffee County along with the San Luis Valley, the only two areas in the Colorado that have been approved by the FAA for such testing, the opportunity to be a part of this new research and technology.
House Bill 1070 took effect upon the governor’s signature.