The U.S. House of Representatives Aviation Subcomittee held a hearing focusing on drones. The “Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Emerging Uses in a Changing National Airspace” hearing was opened by statements from Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA)
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure – author of the AIRR Act version of the FAA Reauthorization package – andChairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Subcommittee on Aviation.
The statements at this hearing demonstrate the progress that the industry has made over the last year in showing the value that the technology has economically and to communities. Both speakers focused on innovation in their remarks, with only Representative LoBiondo making a point about safety.
“The United States is the world leader in aviation. We are also the world leader in innovation, and one sector I want to see thrive is the use of unmanned aerial systems,” said Shuster. “UAS are the latest intersection of aviation and innovation and I am excited to see where this industry goes from here.
UAS have emerged as a strong growth sector in the aviation industry and are providing good-paying jobs here in the United States.”
Shuster went on to outline the many beneficial commercial applications for drones, and pointed out the significant impact that drones had in hurricane relief efforts this year.
“During the historic hurricane season we had this year, UAS played an important role in relief and recovery efforts. UAS were used as airborne cell phone towers to ensure continued phone service and Wi-Fi internet access after these natural disasters,” said Shuster. “Without this technology, many survivors of the hurricanes would have been cut off from their families.”
Shuster went on to praise the efforts that the FAA has made to work with industry partners on regulatory issues. “…Collaboration will help spur job creation and research here in the United States rather than overseas,” said Shuster.
While still generally positive, Representative LoBiondo took a more cautious tone.
“UAS or “drones” are a game-changing technology. While drones have been in existence for decades, they are now creating new industries and transforming others, such as agriculture,” said LoBiondo.
“The sheer volume of UAS now operating in the National Airspace System—about two million have been sold in the United States to date—and their unique features are causing policy-makers and operators to rethink all aspects of airspace use.”
LoBiondo began by reiterating the advantages that commercial drones can bring to communities.
“The possibilities are exciting: our power companies can evaluate damage quickly after a storm while keeping people out of harm’s way. Farmers can more efficiently assess their crops. All kinds of equipment and buildings can be inspected faster and safer than ever before. Drones are changing the way first responders conduct search and rescue operations and how they monitor disasters and recovery activities.”
“…These examples make clear how important it is to maintain American leadership in aviation. We cannot rest on our laurels; the benefits of technological advancement and the costs of complacency are too great. As such we must continue to diligently move forward with UAS integration.”
The Congressman went on, however, to list the potential dangers that drones pose to passenger aircraft, and referenced the ASSURE study published yesterday as evidence of the damage that drones can cause. LoBiondo says that more work needs to be done to ensure that drones satisfy safety requirements.
“These incidents, the numerous sightings of drones, and research reveal that a lot of work remains to be done to achieve safe and successful integration of UAS,” said LoBiondo.
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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