Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), recently testified before the House Small Business Committee, where he emphasized the impact that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can have on small businesses.
More than 700 businesses have now received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) exemptions to operate UAS commercially – the vast majority of which are small businesses, says AUVSI.
“The FAA continues to approve about 50 new commercial operations a week – a process that has been recently streamlined,” Wynne said. “However, this current system of case-by-case approvals – whether streamlined or not – isn’t a long-term solution for the many small businesses wanting to fly.”
In the testimony, he highlighted three businesses: PrecisionHawk, an aerial surveying company based in North Carolina; Aerial Mob, a California-based film company; and Realtor Douglas Trudeau, who uses UAS to photograph his listings in Arizona. Each of these entities has a commercial exemption from the FAA.
The success of these businesses, Wynne said, demonstrates the need for the FAA to finalize the rules for small UAS as soon as possible in order to establish a framework “that will allow anyone who follows the rules to fly.”
Wynne also called on Congress to move forward with the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization measure before the current one expires on Sept. 30.
This measure would expand the ability of small businesses to use UAS commercially and encourage innovation and collaboration between government and private-sector stakeholders, he said.
“Since Congress tasked the FAA with creating UAS regulations in 2012, the technology has gone from a specialized tool to a must-have business asset. The flood of commercial exemption requests to the FAA shows that a mature UAS commercial market is waiting to be unleashed,” he explained.
In a testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at a hearing last month, Wynne said, “The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 brought the UAS industry to where it is today, and the next reauthorization act needs to build upon this foundation to continue to support this growing industry.”