In a letter to U.S. House and Senate committee leaders, the Small UAV Coalition is urging the passage of several unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)-related provisions in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) upcoming reauthorization.
“While stakeholders from across the aviation sector maintain that passage of comprehensive, long-term FAA reauthorization legislation is imperative to ensuring both safety and economic growth, it has become increasingly clear that Congress will need to pass another short-term extension before current authorities expire on July 15, 2016,” the coalition writes to Reps. Bill Shuster and Peter DeFazio, chairman and ranking member of the House’s transportation and infrastructure committee, respectively, and Sens. John Thune and Bill Nelson, chairman and ranking member of the Senate’s commerce, science and transportation committee.
The coalition notes the importance of the recently announced FAA drone rules but says they do not “alleviate the need for Congress to act to ensure that the FAA takes a more progressive and expeditious approach to developing robust UAS regulations.”
These provisions establish as follows:
- A UAS traffic management system, a “critical component of safe and efficient small UAS operations beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) in low-altitude airspace.” Both proposed reauthorization bills include this measure;
- A “framework for small UAS to deliver goods.” The FAA’s final rules authorize the “intrastate carriage of goods,” as long as the operations are not BVLOS, but the House’s and Senate’s proposals direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to “establish a pathway to certify a new class of air carriers” to advance drone delivery further; and
- The affirmation of the FAA’s “exclusive jurisdiction” to regulate airspace in order to avoid what the agency has called a “patchwork quilt” of local and state drone laws. The coalition says this measure would, at the same time, “[preserve] state and local government authority and the rights of private property owners.” The Senate proposal includes this preemption measure.
“All of these provisions are critical components of safe and responsible UAS integration,” the Small UAV Coalition writes.
“While the FAA has demonstrated a strong willingness to engage in public-private partnerships to develop regulations and performance standards, these important initiatives lack timely and concrete paths forward, and the UAS industry cannot safely and fully develop or thrive without them. For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to include these provisions in any short-term extension of FAA authorities.”
Read the coalition’s full letter here.