FAA Readies For An Autonomous Future

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“We find ourselves on the cusp of the third great era of aviation,” acting FAA administrator Daniel Elwell said on Monday—“the age of autonomous and unmanned aircraft.” In a talk at the Aero Club of Washington, Elwell said, “I’m not sure we appreciate how much of a seismic change it’s going to be—for all of us…. We want to be ready.” Elwell said he wants to create an “innovation incubator” inside the FAA, “so that good ideas don’t die on the vine.” The project would give people the freedom to tackle tough questions, and the time to figure out how new technology can be incorporated into the NAS. “If it works, we’re off to the races,” he said. “We’ll measure success by our ability to disrupt the status quo and break down obstacles—so that new ideas can be transformed into concrete actions without disturbing current operations.”

Elwell also noted the recent five-year authorization for the FAA is the longest the administration has had in more than 35 years. “It doesn’t have everything we asked for,” said Elwell. “No bill ever does. But it’s full of a lot of good things. We have a mandate to accelerate our momentum on unmanned aircraft. It clears the way to remote identification standards. It supports us moving forward on long-awaited rules for drone operations over people and at night.” The bill increases commercial space funding by 236 percent over the next five years, and empowers the FAA to create an Office of Spaceports. But Elwell noted the FAA still needs more. “We need funding reform…. The FAA hasn’t started a fiscal year with a full appropriation since 1997.” That’s “just no way to run the largest, most complex air navigation system in the world,” he said.

Comments (4)

An "innovation incubator"? This from the most close-minded, rule book driven, "not invented here" bureaucracy in all of Washington DC? Maybe Mr. Elwell should go back and re-read the Part 23 rewrite before he makes any more grand proclamations about innovation. Actions speak louder than words, sir. I also note that he had a lot to say about drones and UAS, but nothing about GA.

Posted by: John McNamee | November 7, 2018 10:33 AM    Report this comment

"Funding Reform". Is that a code for user fees?

Posted by: Marc Rodstein | November 8, 2018 9:14 AM    Report this comment

FAA Readies For An Autonomous Future.
FAA Warns of a Pilot Shortage.
OK, which is it?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 8, 2018 10:07 AM    Report this comment

Autonomous vs Pilot Shortage? Imagine an ant making love to an elephant. In that order. That's the way it is.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | November 8, 2018 5:26 PM    Report this comment

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