DRONELIFE has already speculated on what a Trump presidency will mean for the drone industry. But in the last few months of Anthony Foxx’s tenure, the US Secretary of Transportation is doing everything he can to push drone regulations forward, Wired magazine reports.
Foxx, a former mayor of Charlotte NC, has been US Secretary of Transportation for 4 years. Now in his final quarter in the position, Foxx has gone to Silicon Valley to see first hand some of the most forward thinking commercial drone applications. Visiting medical drone delivery pioneer Zipline, currently operating in Rwanda, he investigated how medical drone delivery might work in the US. (Zipline tested medical delivery to remote clinics with FAA earlier this year.)
Foxx recognizes that the drone industry moves fast – and has collaborated with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta to get drone regulations moving. The Small UAS Rule enacted at the end of August regularized commercial drone operations, but the existing broad restrictions against flight over people and flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) make drone delivery impossible in the US.
More important than current restrictions is the question of integration: the UTM project worked on by NASA , the FAA, and industry stakeholders won’t be even ready for consideration for some time. And until drones are integrated into the US airspace management, large scale commercial drone use isn’t practical.
But in the last few months Secretary Foxx, FAA Administrator Huerta, and the Obama White House have given drones a lot of attention. At a White House briefing a few months ago, industry representatives testified about the importance of drones to the economy and to industry. Government officials promised speedy progress and voiced their commitment to the success of the drone sector. Since then, new testing programs have been announced: and new regulations promised.
But time is running short for Secretary Foxx, and while the FAA’s Huerta has said that the agency recognizes the need for speed, its doubtful that much will change in the next few months. The drone industry will have to wait for the Trump team to see what happens next.
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 penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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