The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and 31 other organizations have sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) encouraging the agency to expedite the rulemaking process for unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations in U.S. airspace.
The letter also calls on the FAA to allow the limited use of small UAS for commercial purposes before the final rulemaking is completed.
AUVSI says that while Congress authorized the integration of UAS in 2012 and the FAA has recently implemented key steps in the integration process, the rulemaking for small UAS has been delayed for almost four years. Last month's FAA v. Pirker decision, AUVSI adds, underscores the immediate need for a safety structure and regulatory framework for small UAS.
‘The time for resolution has come, and we cannot afford any further delays. The technology is advancing faster than the regulations to govern it,’ the letter states. ‘While the FAA has indicated its intention to appeal the Pirker decision to the full National Transportation Safety Board, we strongly encourage the FAA to simultaneously expedite its small UAS rulemaking and issue notice and public comment as soon as possible.’
In addition to expediting the UAS rulemaking, the organizations urge the FAA to use its congressional authority to allow some limited UAS operations immediately.
‘We recommend the FAA use all available means, including Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, to allow for some limited UAS operations, subject to the secretary of transportation's safety determination, before the small UAS rule is finalized,’ the letter states.
‘The current regulatory void has left American entrepreneurs and others either sitting on the sidelines or operating in the absence of appropriate safety guidelines,’ the letter continues. ‘The recreational community has proven that community-based safety programming is effective in managing this level of activity, and we highly encourage the FAA to allow similar programming to be used to allow the small UAS industry to establish appropriate standards for safe operation. Doing so will allow a portion of the promising commercial sector to begin operating safely and responsibly in the national airspace.’
According to AUVSI's economic impact study, the integration of UAS will create more than 100,000 new jobs and $82 billion in economic impact in the first decade following integration.
‘This technology has the ability to transform the way many industries operate, whether helping farmers better survey their fields, assisting search-and-rescue missions or providing real estate agents with new vantage points,’ comments Michael Toscano, president and CEO of AUVSI. ‘Delays in the rulemaking process have slowed the integration process, keeping these industries on the sidelines.’
Co-signees of the letter include the Aerospace States Association, Air Traffic Controllers Association, Airborne Law Enforcement Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Airports Council International – North America, American Association of Airport Executives, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Society of Agronomy, American Soybean Association, Crop Science Society of America, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, International Society of Precision Agriculture, International Stability Operations Association, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of Realtors, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Press Photographers Association, National Sheriffs' Association, National Ski Areas Association, National Sunflower Association, North American Equipment Dealers Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, Realtors Land Institute, Soil Science Society of America, and U.S. Canola Association.
The full letter to the FAA is available here.