Huerta’ speech called clearly for the collaboration between industry representatives and government agencies. “There’s often a combative relationship between government and the industry it regulates,” said Huerta. “But not here. For the FAA, the airlines and manufacturers, the pilots and passengers…Safety is our common goal, our shared principle, and our north star.”
Huerta commented that drones create a new challenge in regulation, due to the pace of innovation. “Now, we’re ushering in a new age of American aviation: the unmanned aircraft era. And it’s moving at a quicker pace than anything we’ve seen before,” Huerta said. “…If you can dream it, drone manufacturers are building it.” After listing some of what he referred to as the agency’s “greatest hits” – the 37,000 Remote Pilot Certificates that have been issued under Part 107 to date, the 770,000 drone registrations completed through the online portal – the administrator said that the work towards integration will get more complex moving forward. “… I’m going to say something that’s likely to give my colleagues heartburn: This was the easy stuff.”
Huerta mentioned drone operation over people and BVLOS flight as projects yet to be completed, discussing the safety and security concerns that those operations present – including an oblique reference to the potential use of drones as instruments of “ill-intent.” He said that the agency would be bringing industry and security leadership together to address these issues, and promised more details “in the near future.”
Also announced was a new ARC (Aviation Rulemaking Committee) modeled after the Drone Registration ARC to help create standard for remote ID and tracking of drones – something that drone manufacturer DJI has already weighed in on. “This is one of the law enforcement community’s top concerns,” said Huerta, “and we hope the recommendations we receive will pave the way for expanded drone operations over people and beyond visual line of sight.”
Huerta emphasized that collaboration with industry, and the adoption of new technology, was the best way forward for drone integration. “We all need to have skin in the game, and be invested in producing the best possible outcomes for all parties,” said Huerta.”…technology can also solve some of the safety and security challenges we’re facing…The way I see it, the more problems industry can solve itself using technology, the better.”
“We’re all going to need to roll up our sleeves,” said Huerta. “We have a lot of work to do.”
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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