FAA Symposium on drone integration

Last week’s FAA UAS Virtual Symposium, a joint event sponsored by AUVSI and the FAA, featured a wide range of speakers from the regulatory and drone communities. In Perspectives from Capitol Hill, Rep. Rick Larson, Chairman of the House Aviation Sub-Committee, explained how lawmakers are addressing the complex issues of drone integration into NAS.

Mr. Larson stressed that the “safe and efficient integration of drones into US airspace” is a top priority for Congress, commenting that government research suggests that the US small hobby drone fleet will grow by more than 1,000,000 units, while the commercial drone fleet will double to over 800,000. “… The US aerospace industry cannot risk domestic companies going overseas … if the regulatory framework is not in place,” said Larson.

This is the theme that runs through Larson’s comments: Lawmakers and regulators need to act quickly to ensure that the regulatory framework in the US supports growth and innovation in the drone industry.

Larson praised the publication of “two long-awaited UAS rules” – Remote ID and Operations Over People – and said that advanced drone use is only possible with reliable remote ID systems. MP Larson also cited the BEYOND program as a means to address the remaining drone integration issues.

However, Larson said the FAA needs to leverage the advances made to enable more complex drone operations and “move quickly” in implementing and testing unmanned traffic management (UTM). Congress, Larson said, will maintain a “forward-looking agenda to ensure that the US remains a world leader – to ensure that we continue to drive drone integration.”

“We are a long way from drone integration.”

Commenting on Rep. Larson’s speech, Jay Merkle (FAA) and Brian Wynne (AUVSI) agreed that the US still has a long way to go to fully integrate drones into airspace. Merkle said the FAA is working towards performance-based, technology-independent rules that encourage innovation. The FAA’s approach is based on the question of “what is possible,” said Merkle, and work continues to enable “increasingly complex operations”.

AUVSI President Brian Wynne said the drone industry had a huge role to play in helping regulators. “…. One of the biggest barriers is public acceptance,” commented Wynne, saying that the industry must continue to develop applications that add real value to the public. “We have [the drone industry] has got to bring something to the community …. These are the people Congressman Larson and his colleagues think about the most up on the hill. ”

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional marketplace for drone services, and a passionate observer of the emerging drone industry and regulatory environment for drones. Author of over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space, Miriam 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 emerging technologies.
For advice or writing in the drone industry, email Miriam.

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