The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) reiterated the need for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS/drones) to be safely and carefully integrated into the national airspace system (NAS) in comments filed on an Amazon Prime Air petition on Wednesday. The petition, which was filed in early August, asks for exemptions that would allow the company to conduct commercial delivery operations using drones under a Part 135 air carrier operating certificate. It also outlines Amazon’s plans for safe operation of such beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) delivery flights. EAA’s comments emphasized that while it is open to the opportunities offered by UAS operations, it will not support actions that create “a burden to the general aviation community undertaken for the benefit of UAS interests.”
“EAA remains committed to the philosophy that UAS must be integrated into the airspace, with no concessions given to UAS that would encumber manned aircraft in any operation that is presently allowed, nor any equipment mandates imposed on manned aircraft beyond what is already required,” the organization stated in its comments. “Additionally, manned aircraft must have the right-of-way in all circumstances.” While EAA says it “believes that Amazon’s operating plan holds promise,” it also highlighted the need for FAA validation of the plan’s risk assumptions and suggested mitigation strategies.