Senate bill now on the president’s desk would require changes in the composition of the members of the influential Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The Drone Advisory Committee was established to provide “independent advice and recommendations” on drone regulations to the US Department of Transportation and the FAA under the DAC Charter.
S.2730 is entitled “Drone Advisory Committee for the 21st Century Act”. The summary of the proposal is simple:
Under this law, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is required to take appropriate steps to encourage direct representation of county and tribal governments, agriculture, forestry, pasture sectors, and other rural interests on the Drone Advisory Committee.
The FAA must include public participation in nominating individuals for committee membership.
The Drone Advisory Committee Bill, introduced more than a year ago, is sponsored by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and jointly sponsored by Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS).
The current membership is led by former Precision Hawk CEO and Chairman of the Advisory Board Michael Chasen. The committee includes members of the drone industry, including software and hardware solution providers, pilots, representatives of local authorities and emergency services stakeholders. Earlier this year, the FAA asked for new membership applications: The 75 eligible applications received before August 18, 2020 will be considered for vacancies. (See the full list of current members below.)
If S.2730 is signed by the President, it can affect the selection of new members – and the way in which they are made.
The DAC was an important step towards public and private collaboration on the integration of drones. Since then, the DAC has done a lot of hard work making recommendations for regulations, but has occasionally been criticized for operating without complete transparency and for relying heavily on stakeholders from the drone industry. (DAC meetings are public, individual working groups work together and then report their results at the group’s public meetings. Videos of the last two meetings, which are held virtually, are available online: minutes of all other meetings are also available.)
It is unclear how the FAA might involve the public in the process of nominating members for the DAC, but p. 2730 makes clear the “purpose of Congress” in terms of increasing public participation:
(2) Full transparency in the work of the Drone Advisory Committee is vital to ensure that the public can effectively participate and contribute to the development of solid federal policy. The Federal Aviation Administration Administrator should, as much as possible, ensure that the work of the drone advisory committee is shared with the public and is easily accessible to the public, and ensure transparency and openness in the manner in which the committee’s affairs are conducted will .
Michael Chasen, Chairman of the Advisory Board of PrecisionHawk USA, Inc.
Designated federal official
Arjun Garg, Assistant Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
Airports and airport communities
Work (controller, pilot)
- Trish Gilbert, Executive Vice President of Pilots, National Air Traffic Controllers Association)
- Joseph DePete, President of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
- David Greene, Aviation Bureau director, Wisconsin Department of Transportation
- WadeTroxell, Mayor of Fort Collins, Colorado and the National League of Cities
- Bob Brock, director of aviation and UAS, Kansas Department of Transportation
- Mark Colborn, Senior Sergeant in the Dallas Police Department
- Michael Leo, captain of the New York Fire Department
Providers of navigation, communication, surveillance and air traffic management functions
- Mariah Scott, President of Skyward (a Verizon company)
Research, development and science
- Robie Samanta Roy, vice president of technology at Lockheed Martin Corporation
Traditional manned airlines
- Mark Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
- Houston Mills, Vice President, Flight Operations and Safety, United Parcel Service (UPS)
- Lorne Cass, President of Aero NowGen Solutions, LLC
Manufacturer of UAS hardware components
- Christian Ramsey, President of uAvionix Corporation
- James Burgess, chairman of the board of directors, Wing (an alphabet company)
- Michael Chasen, Chairman of the Advisory Board of PrecisionHawk USA Inc.
- Brendan Schulman, vice president of politics and law, DJI Technology
- Michael Sinnett, Vice President Product Development and Strategy, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
- Greg Agvent, Senior Director of National News Technology, CNN
- Todd Graetz, Director, Technology Services, UAS Program, BNSF Railway
UAS software application maker
- Jaz Banga, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Airspace Systems, Inc.
- Chris Anderson, Chairman of the Board, 3DR
- Rich Hanson, President of the Academy of Model Aeronautics
- Brian Wynne, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
- Thomas Karol, General Counsel, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
- David Silver, Vice President, Civil Aviation, Aerospace Industries Association
- Lee Moak, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Moak Group
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has written over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
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