The Government Accountability Office says the FAA is dragging its feet on integrating drones into the National Airspace System and confounding industry efforts to get their businesses off the ground. In a report published last week, the GAO says the agency needs to step up its efforts to create a comprehensive strategy for drones to keep company with existing air traffic. It also wants the FAA to better communicate its requirements to industry and reduce the internal agency confusion in applying and enforcing rules.
“GAO is making four recommendations, including that FAA: (1) develop a drone integration strategy that includes all elements of a comprehensive strategy and (2) evaluate its current documentation to identify options to more clearly communicate how applicants can satisfy drone operational request requirements and FAA’s process for reviewing and approving operational requests,” the GAO said in its report.
The GAO talked to dozens of industry stakeholders and representatives on various committees advising the FAA and heard stories of conflicting and confounding issuance and interpretation of rules for companies trying to test their drones and services. At the same time the GAO acknowledged the vast complexity of the task at hand and gave the agency credit for the progress it has made. What’s missing is an overall plan. “Establishing a strategy with all key elements is critical to FAA’s ability to effectively manage its drone integration efforts,” the report says.