In a letter to President Trump, stakeholders from the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, community — from manufacturers to business users to government officials — recently urged the creation of a pilot program for state and local governments to work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to integrate UAS into the skies above their communities.
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.
“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.”
The letter shows wide support for the pilot program 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; Academy of Model Aeronautics; Air Traffic Control Association; Airbus Aerial; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Airlines for America; Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence; Chamber Technology Engagement Center; Cherokee Nation Technologies; Consumer Technology Association; CTIA; Drone Manufacturers Alliance; GoPro; Helicopter Association International; Intel; National Air Traffic Controllers Association; National Press Photographers Association; Qualcomm; The Padina Group; PrecisionHawk; Skyward; and Small UAV Coalition.
“Industry-government collaboration is critical to identifying common solutions to the industry’s greatest challenges, such as airspace integration” says AUVSI President and CEO Brian Wynne. “The UAS industry stands to create over 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact over the next decade, and collaboration can help ensure those numbers go even higher.”
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) — a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics — represents more than 7,500 members from more than 60 countries involved in the fields of government, industry and academia. AUVSI members work in the defense, civil and commercial markets.