Nightly News   |  December 30, 2013

FAA to Test Drones at 6 Different Sites

Internet retailer Amazon gave us all a glimpse of the future, working on plans to use remote-controlled drones to deliver packages straight to your front door. And now the FAA is working to make sure drones operate at the “highest level of safety.”  NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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>>> the f.a.a. announced a critical new step in getting drones into the skies. naming six test sites in six states to guide the future course of the growing part of aviation. we get more tonight from our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski .

>> reporter: internet retailer amazon gave us all a glimpse of the future, working on plans to use remote-controlled drones to deliver packages straight to your front door. but who is going to regulate that and ensure it is safe? the federal aviation administration is working on plans of its own.

>> if we want to ensure the highest level of safety we have to have a very complete understanding of how the aircraft operate.

>> reporter: today, the f.a.a. chose six separate test sites, each with unique challenges were drone operations. from the bitter cold of fairbanks, alaska, to the heat of corpus christi , texas, back up to rome, new york, where drones will be flown in heavily congested air traffic .

>> this is a kitty hawk moment in the history of aviation . unmanned aircraft is the next big step.

>> reporter: here at the pentagon and the cia they have relied on drones for more than a decade to wage war against enemy forces overseas. drones flown remotely by trained, experienced pilots. for now any civilian with no training is free to fly drones if it's below 400 feet and away from populated areas or airports. what about the drones equipped with with video cameras?

>> that will raise privacy issue -- issues for people.

>> reporter: it could take years before the necessary safe guards and regulations are in place. it is clear that drone technology has taken wing and the sky is the limit. jim miklaszewski , nbc news, the pentagon.