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Recent Crash Raises Questions About Drone Safety

NATICOKE, Md. (WJZ) -- An unmanned aircraft crashed into the Eastern Shore. As the wreckage is cleared, questions are being raised about the safety of drones.

Monique Griego has more.

Right now, drones are mostly being used overseas but more and more will soon be flying over U.S. soil.

It fell from the sky with a boom and with the fiery wreckage comes a lot of questions.

"I knew that they used them in Iraq and Afghanistan but I was really surprised to hear that one was flying up and down the Nanticoke," said Vicki McCann.

The 44-foot naval drone that crashed into the Eastern Shore Monday was said to be on a routine test flight. Right now, unmanned aircrafts are mostly used as border surveillance or to target terrorists overseas. Last week, one helped kill al- Qaeda's number two leader in Pakistan. But their use in the U.S. is changing.

"They're here. They're going to grow," said Mark Weiss.

Weiss, a retired American Airline captain, is now the civil aviation team leader at Spectrum out of Washington, D.C. He says the number of unmanned aircrafts patrolling the U.S. is going to explode because Congress has ordered the FAA to create a plan to have drones in American airspace by 2015.

"Certainly law enforcement surveillance. The military will be using them for surveillance," Weiss said.

But concerns are already being raised about drones sharing the sky with commercial aircrafts and the threat of having one hijacked by terrorists.

So while there are valid uses for unmanned aircrafts, Weiss says the kinks need to be worked out.

"Yesterday when it crashed here in Maryland, it went into a marsh. We were very lucky, but can you guarantee you can control that?" Weiss said.

Drones can be operated by people who are hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.

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