Touting the potential benefits of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must make setting regulations for safe operations a ‘top priority’ going into 2015.
In a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Sen. Warner says the technology “can provide numerous potential public and private sector benefits, from package delivery to precision agriculture to search-and-rescue applications.”
“An entire industry is waiting for the FAA to provide a path forward for UAS integration into our nation’s airspace by Sept. 30, 2015, a deadline Congress put in place nearly three years ago.”
He urges the agency to “put forth a reasonable and well-defined set of rules that appropriately addresses safety concerns without restricting a promising new field that can be a significant driver of the U.S. economy.”
He cites the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), which says that UAS could create as many as 100,000 jobs and have an $82 billion economic impact in the U.S. within 10 years of integration into the National Airspace System.
Warner says that while we “wait for the FAA to provide clarity on how to safely integrate these systems into the national airspace, foreign companies are forging ahead and gaining a competitive advantage.”
He adds that the possibility of the FAA's mandating that small-UAS operators obtain a full pilot license ‘would be unnecessary and would serve to restrict development of an important industry here in the U.S.’
“I write today to request an update on the FAA’s ongoing efforts to regulate [UAS] and to urge you to make development of balanced and reasonable UAS regulations a top priority as we move into next year,” the senator says.
The full letter to Huerta can be found here.