More U.S. senators from around the country are publicly calling upon the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to take immediate action regarding rules for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operations.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, says it is urgent that the agency address safety concerns and potential security risks of small UAS.
“Risks posed by unmanned aircraft are too serious to ignore. I strongly urge you to issue an emergency rule, such as an interim final rule, to ensure the safety of our communities,” he writes.
“I recognize the opportunities with the expanded use of unmanned aircraft and the benefits of using them for search and rescue missions, disaster monitoring, and border surveillance, among others,” he continues. “However, with small unmanned aircraft becoming more prevalent, the FAA must ensure that requirements are in place to protect the safety of our local communities.”
In a similar letter to Huerta, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. – along with Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; and Cory Booker, D-N.J. – says the FAA must speed up approvals for UAS test permits and not fall behind schedule on plans to regulate the aircraft.
“In light of recent reports, I am concerned that proposed regulations on small, commercial unmanned aircraft will be costly, needlessly restrictive and hinder research and development for the growing UAS industry,” the letter says.
The release from Sen. Wyden adds that Oregon houses three UAS test ranges: the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and airspace outside Pendleton and Tillamook.
“We remain concerned about the impacts that continued delays in the process are having on the American UAS industry and the national economy, and the safety risk posed by expanding unlicensed operations,” the senators write.
Commercial unmanned aircraft use is a growing industry with the potential to contribute significantly to the U.S. economy, the release says.
The senators note the possible chilling effect on creative developments in unmanned aircraft technologies without clarification from FAA on how to proceed.
“This industry cannot continue to grow without further direction and guidance from the FAA on its planned regulations.”
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has long spoken out about similar issues.