At yesterday’s drone panel discussion at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, Michael Huerta – administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – announced a number of updates regarding unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
“That’s really quite remarkable, and we are very encouraged by these numbers. I think we all see registration as an important educational tool. It is a way of letting operators know that as soon as they start flying outdoors, they are, in effect, pilots,” he said.
In addition, Huerta confirmed the FAA expects to have the final rulemaking for small UAS finalized this spring. Last year at a House committee hearing, Michael Whitaker, the FAA’s deputy administrator, offered June 17 as the day in which the rules would be out by.
“As most of you know, this rule will allow for routine commercial operations of small UAS within certain limitations,” Huerta explained. “It will, for the most part, eliminate the need to issue Section 333 exemptions on a case-by-case basis, and it will open up access to the national airspace system while maintaining today’s high safety standards.”
Huerta also announced the availability of the Android version of the B4UFLY UAS safety app, which was publicly released for Apple devices in January.
In regards to the agency’s recently announced micro UAS committee, he said the task force has begun its meetings and will issue a final report of recommendations on April 1, as expected.
“After we review that report, we will draft a proposed rule that I’m confident will reflect the rich array of perspectives offered by the committee.”
Huerta ended his speech by noting the “fascinating and energizing journey” it has been to integrate UAS into national airspace. He said he is “confident that by continuing to work closely together, we will benefit from the virtually limitless potential this segment of aviation brings to our increasingly connected society.”
“And we will do so as safely and as expeditiously as possible.”
According to the FAA, the festival’s drone event was sponsored by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, CompTIA, Hogan Lovells, the Internet Coalition, the Small UAV Coalition, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.