Notes from the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting held Wednesday have been released, indicating that the DAC task groups have made progress on their assigned goals.
Following a tour on Tuesday of the FAA Air Traffic Control Command Center and the Potomac TRACON facility in Warrenton, VA the DAC met at the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) headquarters on Wednesday for the Task Groups established at the previous meeting to report on their progress.
Federal, State and Local Regulations: Who is Responsible?
Task Group 1 (TG1), co-chaired by DJI’s VP of Policy & Legal Affairs Brendan Shulman and John Eagerton, the Chief of the Aeronautics Bureau Alabama Department of Transportation, is responsible for making recommendations concerning the roles and responsibilities of federal, state and local governments in drone regulation and enforcement.
This is a hot topic in the drone industry, as commercial operators struggle to comply with a steady stream of differing state and local laws. A fact sheet distributed by the FAA last year establishing their exclusive right to regulate the airspace has not helped to stem the tide of additional regulations.
While the TG1 report acknowledged that the group had significant work still to do, the group has made progress in bringing stakeholders from all areas together. The group has worked with stakeholders to create a framework for prioritizing regulations and addressing the concerns of government and citizens.
Airspace Access: What Comes First?
Task Group 2 (TG2), co-chaired by Sean Cassidy of Amazon Prime Air and Robert Hughes of Northrup Grummon, is responsible for addressing issues of airspace access. In what would appear to be the result of a major work effort by the committee, they have produced tables of use case scenarios and drafted a set of recommendations for the FAA.
These recommendations, while no guarantee, could represent a big move forward for the industry. The top 3 suggest that the FAA prioritize BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) flight within the Mode C veil – below 400 ft; develop technology-neutral navigation performance requirements; and evaluate the capacity of existing cellular networks to support low altitude BVLOS performance-based command and control.
Who Pays for Drone Integration?
Task Group 3 (TG3) could, under the current administration, be one of the most significant. TG3 is responsible for recommendations on funding, determining who pays for drone integration. With the assumption that integration will be funded with a mix of government and industry resources, the group is responsible for investigating priorities and funding mechanisms. The group is in the data gathering stage, and will report on recommendations this summer.
While the DAC will make recommendations rather than regulations, the FAA has made significant efforts to embrace a collaborative approach to drone integration. The progress made by DAC task groups could go a long way towards helping frame the future of drone laws, and ensuring the the industry gets an equal voice in how they are developed.
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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