The Commercial Drone Alliance, a leading industry advocacy group, has published a response to today’s announcement of a UAS Integration Pilot Program. Saying that the program was “an important step in the right direction,” the Alliance statement expressed optimism that the program demonstrated White House recognition of the industry while cautioning that implementation would be key to the success of drone integration.
The Commercial Drone Alliance “welcomes the Administration’s recognition of the commercial drone industry’s tremendous potential with its announcement today of a government and industry-supported Pilot Program for UAS integration,” says the statement.
“Although details of the Presidential Memorandum are still forthcoming, the Commercial Drone Alliance sees the drone pilot program as an important step in the right direction.”
While reiterating the many benefits that drone technology has proven, especially during recent natural disasters in the U.S. and abroad, the Alliance points out that regulations have been a barrier for implementation of many beneficial commercial drone applications – something that the Integration Pilot Program is designed to address.
“While the public benefits of commercial drones are substantial, policymaking has lagged behind the technology in the United States. In an effort to move policy forward, the Administration’s UAS Integration Pilot Program will establish “innovation hubs” around the country,” says the statement. “Under the program, local and state authorities will collaborate with industry to address needs for different types of commercial UAS operations that are in the public’s interest. We praise the White House and the Department of Transportation for their creativity in helping to bring the vast benefits of this revolutionary technology to the American people.”
Expressing hope that the program will move things forward for the industry, the Commercial Drone Alliance cautions that stakeholders will need to watch the details and implementation carefully. The group also carefully emphasizes that for the success of the industry, safety standards for drones should be established by the FAA on a federal level, rather than by state or local governments.
The Alliance is optimistic that the Program will become a model for overcoming some of the hurdles keeping the full potential of commercial drones from being realized. The success of this Program will depend on its implementation, which will have to be closely monitored to ensure:
1) The FAA’s Part 107 waiver process greatly improves, for the benefit of the industry as a whole. It is critical that the process for obtaining waivers under Part 107, whether through this new Program or otherwise, is properly streamlined, transparent and expeditious. The Part 107 waiver itself must also provide meaningful relief for companies operating drones in the real world.
2) The UAS Integration Pilot Program does not take existing resources away from rulemakings that will enable expanded operations and industry-government partnership efforts.
3) There is proper coordination and partnership between federal, state and local governments.
4) The importance of a national standard of safety under the FAA’s oversight is underscored.
“The indications we’re getting from the White House, Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration more clearly than ever point to a growing realization of how important the commercial drone industry is to the economy,” said Lisa Ellman, Co-Executive Director, Commercial Drone Alliance. “We enthusiastically welcome their efforts and creativity in proposing this UAS Integration Pilot Program between state, local and federal governments and industry.”
Gretchen West, Co-Executive Director, Commercial Drone Alliance, added “We believe this new program will be another important step toward realizing the full value of commercial drones and delivering on their benefits for the American people. We’re thrilled to be collaborating with government agencies and praise the Administration’s enthusiasm for delivering pro-innovation programs to accelerate growth.”
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.