This week, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hosted an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) symposium in Daytona Beach, Fla., where FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced three “high-level UAS strategic priorities.”
Speaking on the importance of the continued collaboration between the FAA and the industry, Huerta said he is marking “a new phase of the collaboration that has proven to be so successful.”
He explained that the industry and the FAA “have already tackled a lot of the low-hanging fruit” but emphasized the need to “start thinking about bigger challenges,” which he laid out in three priorities:
1) “Not surprisingly, the first is safely enabling UAS operations in the National Airspace System.”
2) “Second is adaptability. We want to create an environment in which emerging technology can be safely and rapidly introduced.”
3) “And third is global leadership. We’re looking to shape the global standards and practices for UAS through international collaboration.”
These three things, Huerta said, “form the backbone of a comprehensive strategic plan for UAS integration that [the FAA expects] to release soon.” According to the FAA, Huerta will elaborate on this plan at XPONENTIAL next month.
Huerta added that safety is a “shared responsibility”: It’s the priority of both the FAA and the industry to work on solutions for safe UAS integration.
“Collaboration is something I see as a two-way street. It isn’t just about the FAA listening to your ideas about what we should or shouldn’t do – although that’s valuable. The industry also has an obligation to focus some of the energy it’s pouring into innovative designs toward simultaneously developing safety solutions.”
Huerta also highlighted recent developments: the drone registration system – with now more than 425,000 operators registered, the aviation rulemaking committee’s report on a risk-based approach for UAS flights over people, and a streamlined Section 333 exemption process.
He also reminded that the final small UAS rules will be out in late spring – and will thus bring forward “routine commercial drone operations and eliminate the need for most Section 333 exemptions.”
Huerta added, “It seems that at every UAS event I attend, I comment on how much we’ve accomplished since the last event, even if that last event was just a month or two ago. Maybe it’s getting to be a bit of a cliché, but it’s true.”