The Obama administration’s office of management and budget has released a statement regarding the Senate’s proposed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, H.R.636, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016, which includes provisions related to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The bill – which was proposed by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla. – reauthorizes the FAA and related programs through the end of fiscal year 2017 (Sept. 30).
The White House says it “appreciates the Senate’s bipartisan effort to advance an aviation reauthorization bill.” Congress has managed the FAA “through a series of short-term patches, creating significant uncertainty for the FAA and undermining the agency’s ability to make long-term capital investments and plan for the future,” according to the statement.
“Though the administration believes that 18 months do not provide the long-term certainty that the FAA needs to advance on its critical priorities, the administration appreciates that the bill is intended to enable a longer-term dialogue about the future of our aviation system.”
One amendment, co-sponsored by Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., would create a pathway for companies to use UAS to deliver products to consumers. Specifically, the text of the amendment reads as follows:
“Not later than two years after the enactment of this section, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue a final rule authorizing the carriage of property by operators of small unmanned aircraft systems for compensation or hire within the United States.”
The administration says it “shares Congress’ goal of fast and efficient integration of [UAS] into the [National Airspace System (NAS)],” but “the FAA must be able to maintain regulatory flexibility.”
“The bill would direct the Department of Transportation to develop certification standards for small UAS so that companies could engage in the widespread transportation of property two years from passage. This kind of overly prescriptive means of integrating UAS using legislation would disrupt the ongoing rulemaking process,” the White House explains.
“The administration looks forward to working with the Congress to pass an FAA reauthorization bill that strengthens our aviation system, improves safety and maintains the leadership of the U.S. in global aviation,” it concludes.
The full statement can be found here.