Small UAV Coalition to Congress: Clock is Ticking to Reauthorize FAA

Posted by Betsy Lillian on May 17, 2016 No Comments

The Small UAV Coalition is urging Congress to prioritize passing the long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), whose short-term extension is expiring in less than two months on July 15.

The coalition has written a letter – co-signed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and CompTIA – to Paul Ryan, House speaker; Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader; Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader; and Harry Reid, Senate minority leader, to discuss the need for a “forward-leaning, long-term regulatory framework” for the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry in the U.S. so that it can “develop in a safe, responsible and efficient manner.”

The House and Senate have proposed respective FAA reauthorization bills, both of which, according to the coalition, “recognize the need for [the] FAA to take a more progressive and expeditious approach to developing a UAS regulatory framework.”

“While the FAA has demonstrated a strong willingness to engage in public-private partnerships to develop regulations and performance standards, many of these important initiatives lack timely and concrete paths forward, which these bills would provide,” the letter states.

The Senate bill, for example, which recently passed the floor by a vote of 95-3, offers a provision that “affirms the FAA’s exclusive jurisdiction over national airspace, aircraft and pilots” and is consistent with the agency’s fact sheet that says a “patchwork quilt” of state/local drone laws across the country could hinder the agency’s ability to ensure safe airspace.

“The UAS industry cannot fully develop and thrive under another short-term extension of current FAA authorities,” warns the coalition. “In order to ensure the widespread integration of UAS into the airspace in a safe and efficient manner, we respectfully ask that you work with the committees of jurisdiction and other leaders to ensure that Congress acts swiftly to enact comprehensive FAA reauthorization legislation before current authorities expire.”

The full letter can be found here.

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