The U.S. Senate has confirmed Elaine Chao as the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation; she will succeed Anthony Foxx.
Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), says in a statement, “AUVSI congratulates Secretary Chao on her Senate confirmation and looks forward to continuing our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration to foster a favorable policy environment for the unmanned systems industry and work to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.”
Late last year, when President Donald Trump announced Chao’s nomination, the Drone Manufacturers Alliance called Chao a “proven leader,” who has a “long-held approach to a balanced regulation.” Chao was elected U.S. Secretary of Labor back in 2001 and served under the Bush administration for eight years.
“We look forward to working with her and her team on policies that promote innovation and allow the drone market to flourish in a responsible and safe manner,” the alliance said.
Wynne adds that “sustained industry-government collaboration is key to advancing the innovation needed to create jobs and keep the U.S. at the forefront of this growing and exciting field.”
“We look forward to working with Secretary Chao and her team to realize the many societal and economic benefits that the unmanned systems industry is poised to bring to our nation,” he concludes.
According to the Small UAV Coalition, Chao is taking office at a pivotal time for the commercial UAS industry – as she said during her confirmation hearing, “drones are poised to become a major commercial force.”
The group notes that the continued growth of the industry is contingent upon the “aggressive development and implementation of progressive, risk-based regulations.” In line with a recent presidential memorandum, the coalition encourages Chao to review the pending notice of proposed rulemaking for operations over people – originally scheduled to be released by the end of 2016 – and publish it for public comment as soon as possible.
The coalition also agrees with Chao that we need a “national consensus on our approach to drones, rather than a patchwork of state regulations.” The group says it continues to work with the Trump administration, Congress, and state and local leaders to develop an approach to regulations that will ensure the safety of national airspace while supporting industry and innovation.
Photo courtesy of Elaine Chao’s website