Drone Integration To Move Forward


The integration of drones into the National Airspace System will accelerate with a pilot program directed by the FAA, the Transportation Department announced on Wednesday. The initiative will implement a directive signed by President Donald Trump this week that aims to develop a regulatory framework to allow more complex low-altitude operations; balance local and national interests; improve communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions; address security and privacy risks; and accelerate the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations. The potential economic benefit of integrating drones into the nation’s airspace is estimated at up to $82 billion and up to 100,000 jobs, according to the president’s directive.

The pilot program will evaluate a variety of operational concepts, including night operations, flights over people, flights beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies, counter-UAS security operations and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft. “Stakeholders will have the opportunity through this program to demonstrate how their innovative technological and operational solutions can address complex unmanned aircraft integration challenges,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “At the same time, the program recognizes the importance of community participation in meaningful discussions about balancing local and national interests related to integrating unmanned aircraft.” The DOT is seeking proposals from private/public partnerships to participate in the program. The DOT said it will publish a notice in the Federal Register soon with more details about how proposals will be evaluated and how the program will work.