The FAA held a UAS Symposium with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University last week in an effort to bring stakeholders together on drone integration.
The Symposium was one of the FAA’s recent efforts to take a collaborative – and faster – approach to getting drone integration completed. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Deputy Administrator Mike Whitaker have both said that the agency has changed tactics on rulemaking, building on the success of the drone registration program, which was implemented within a very short timeframe due to the formation of the Registration Task Force. The FAA adopted the same process to work on regulations for flight over people, with the recent Micro UAS Task Force.
FAA administrators called upon symposium attendees to participate in the process of comprehensive drone integration, saying that it will be a large undertaking. “Working together, we have accomplished a truly incredible amount in the last couple of years. But we’re still really at the beginning of the process,” Huerta said during his keynote address. “We need to start thinking about bigger challenges, so I propose that we use this symposium to frame these challenges together.”
The FAA has had a string of announcements streamlining drone regulation recently, including improving the Section 333 Exemption process; raising the blanket altitude for some applications; and introducing an electronic registration process for commercial drones. Still, the FAA has not released the small UAS rule which should eliminate the need for the exemption process for many commercial applications. The FAA promises that the the Small UAS rule will be released in “late spring” of this year, having missed the fall of 2015 deadline imposed by the 2012 FAA Reauthorization package.
“The wide-ranging viewpoints and feedback provided during the UAS Symposium will inform the FAA’s long-term discussion on UAS integration. It will also mark the beginning of a new phase of the collaboration that will help the FAA identify and prioritize integration challenges,” says an FAA statement. FAA Administrator Huerta says that he will report on FAA’s next steps at AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL conference next week.
The FAA has been under pressure to move forward on drone integration, as Congress debates the 2016 FAA Reauthorization package. The package passed through the Senate and was passed back to the House of Representatives last week; lawmakers have put language in the bill emphasizing the importance of completing drone integration.
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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