Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) has introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act, legislation designed to support innovation in the drone industry by creating an interim framework of industry friendly regulations. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced similar legislation of the same name last year.
“The UAS industry is booming in Oregon and nationwide, but our laws and regulations are stifling innovation instead of encouraging it, forcing American companies to look overseas to test new technology,” said Representative Blumenauer in a statement on his website. “We must not miss the opportunity to harness the benefits and utility of UAS technology, which will bring advances in safety and efficiency in nearly every sector of the economy. The Commercial UAS Modernization Act provides a much-needed update to federal rules, making it clear that flying smartphones should not be regulated like Predator drones.”
“America can lead the world in developing this cutting edge technology, but only if we take the necessary steps to adopt a regulatory framework that embraces both safety and innovation,” Senator Booker said. “I’m proud that Congressman Blumenauer is introducing the Commercial UAS Modernization Act which takes critical steps towards this goal. I am excited to have a partner so dedicated to ensuring the United States can reap the social and economic benefits of UAS technology – from delivering food aid abroad to helping with search and rescue at home, the possibilities of this technology are just beginning to be explored and I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we move these proposals forward.”
Rep. Blumenauer’s statement explains the contents of the Act:
The Commercial UAS Modernization Act:
· Creates an interim rule that provides basic guidelines for commercial use and testing of small UAS and micro UAS during the period the FAA finalizes rules covering commercial UAS;
· Strengthens the FAA’s oversight authorities by creating a deputy administrator exclusively responsible for the safe integration of UAS in U.S. airspace, while also streamlining regulations that currently slow industry’s ability to innovate new aircraft technologies;
· Directs the FAA to explore the feasibility of transporting packages and other property by small UAS; and
· Ensures that FAA test sites are being used to the maximum extent to facilitate research into new technologies, including developing an air traffic management system for UAS, in partnership with industry and other relevant government agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The drone industry has seemed to lack legislative support in recent months, as federal, state and local lawmakers continued to add layers of regulation onto drone use in an effort to soothe the public’s fears about privacy and accidents. As other countries have moved to attract the booming drone industry with more friendly regulations and benefits, experts have feared that the US was falling behind. The new legislation would help the US to hold on to new businesses and encourage further development: several industry organizations have expressed their appreciation to Rep. Blumenauer for introducing the act, including AUVSI, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Small UAV Coalition.
“Other countries with more innovation-friendly regulatory policies continue to pull ahead of the United States in the race to develop commercial drones,” said Daniel Castro, Vice President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “However, in terms of policy, this legislation would catapult the United States to the front of the line in UAS innovation. In addition, it would carve out pragmatic exemptions for micro-UAS and establish a set of R&D priorities for drones.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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