LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada officials applied for one of five guaranteed spots in a federal program intended to increase the number and complexity of drone flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration sees the program as a way to further integrate drones with national airspace. While state officials see it as a way to solidify Nevada as a key hub for the drone industry, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday.

The pilot program aims to have state, local and tribal governments partner with private-sector drone entities to test advanced drone operations, such as flying over people or flying a drone outside an operator's visual line of sight.

The program does not provide any funding, but it opens "a whole new world" for drone policy and is a chance for communities "to be on the cutting edge," said Lisa Ellman, partner and chair of the Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems Group at Washington law firm Hogan Lovells.

"The real benefit of this program (is being) able to provide services that people want in their communities through moving drone policy forward," Ellman said.

Paul Anderson, incoming director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said he and others are working to find partners "from homegrown companies to Fortune 50 corporations" for the state's project proposal.

He said he could not give details on the proposal, because he does not want to tip off the competition. Anderson said he is expecting "a hotly contested bid process."

"With only five awards guaranteed, we can't reveal our recipe for the secret sauce," said Chris Walach, senior director at the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems. The institute acts as a clearinghouse for unmanned aerial system-related business opportunities and works with Anderson's office.

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A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman did not return a request for comment regarding when winners will be announced. Applications are due Jan. 4.

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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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