In a letter to President Donald Trump, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) stakeholders, including manufacturers, business users and government officials, are urging the creation of a pilot program for state and local governments to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to further integrate drones.
The letter, led by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), details the importance of federal control of the airspace and outlines a pilot program to get input from states and municipalities to develop policy on UAS operations, the association says.
“For months, we have advocated on Capitol Hill for a pilot program that allows state and local governments, along with UAS industry stakeholders, to develop a coordinated effort with the FAA concerning UAS airspace integration,” the 29 companies and organizations wrote. “We are pleased that your administration has also identified this as a sensible approach.”
According to AUVSI, the letter shows wide support for the pilot program, including from government associations such as the Aerospace States Association, delivery services such as FedEx Express and the United Parcel Service, manufacturers such as DJI, and business users including Amazon and Verizon.
“A pilot program would allow for a data-driven process within a controlled operational environment to explore the best options for states and municipalities to address their needs as it relates to different types of UAS operations,” the letter continues. “Additionally, a pilot program is the best option for informing future regulatory and congressional action that will help enhance innovation and increase economic impact.”
The letter also notes that “the FAA’s sovereignty of the national airspace must not be compromised. Federal control of the airspace is a bedrock principle of aviation law that dates back over 50 years and is the primary reason the United States maintains an aviation safety record that is the envy of the world. Maintaining the FAA’s authority helps keep the skies safe for all aircraft – manned and unmanned.”
Other companies and organizations that signed the letter are A^3 By Airbus Group; the Academy of Model Aeronautics; the Air Traffic Control Association; Airbus Aerial; the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Airlines for America; the Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence; the Chamber Technology Engagement Center; Cherokee Nation Technologies; the Consumer Technology Association; CTIA; the Drone Manufacturers Alliance; GoPro; Helicopter Association International; Intel; the National Air Traffic Controllers Association; the National Press Photographers Association; Qualcomm; The Padina Group; PrecisionHawk; Skyward; and the Small UAV Coalition.
The full letter can be found here.