The Pendleton Unmanned Aerial Systems Range is finally off the ground, so to speak, and Pendleton city officials are suggesting last year's unprecedented activity that included providing full-time jobs is conclusive evidence of the range’s permanency.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the government agency that regulates the range, is also high on the UAS industry’s potential, recently forecasting “phenomenal” growth for the commercial drone sector and anticipating the number of commercial UAS would go from 110,604 at the end of 2017 to 451,800 in 2022

The FAA forecast states: “As non-model aircraft become operationally more efficient and safe, battery life expands, and regulatory constraints are reduced, new business models will begin to develop, thus enhancing robust supply-side responses."

Pendleton is patiently positioned and poised to proactively pounce when prompted by the market.

The range will need to generate 165,000 total labor hours by 2022 to have $1 million in loans forgiven. 60,000 hours were logged in 2018, smashing previous forecasts on the high end.

A large portion of the activity is being conducted by clients such as PAE and A3, an Airbus subsidiary. These companies have temporary set ups now, Pendleton city officials are hoping those residencies become permanent.

More From 97.1 KXRX