WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) solicited proposals from state and local governments, eligible universities and other public entities to develop six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test sites around the country. Through the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress directed the FAA to establish the program to conduct critical research into how best to safely integrate UAS systems into the national airspace over the next several years, and what certification and navigation requirements will need to be established.
The introduction of these systems into the airspace will require ensuring
that privacy is appropriately protected. The FAA is requesting public input
into efforts to ensure that privacy questions surrounding the pilot program are
properly addressed. The FAA’s proposed privacy approach emphasizes
transparency, public engagement and compliance with existing law.
“Our focus is on maintaining and improving the safety and efficiency of the
world's largest aviation system,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“This research will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the
safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies.”
“We expect to learn how unmanned aircraft systems operate in different
environments and how they will impact air traffic operations. The test sites
will also inform the agency as we develop standards for certifying unmanned
aircraft and determine necessary air traffic requirements,” said FAA
Administrator Michael Huerta.
The FAA technical evaluation of submitted proposals will include
consideration of geographic diversity, climatic diversity, location of ground
infrastructure and research needs, population density and air traffic density,
as well as specific goals and objectives to be accomplished. The combined
attributes across the test sites should provide the appropriate environment and
opportunities to test UAS, although, each test site will not have to provide
Along with the test site selection process, the FAA is sending a notice to
the Federal Register asking the public to review the draft privacy language and
provide comments. The FAA will consider all comments submitted as it develops
the final privacy requirements. These requirements will be included in the
agreements between the test sites and the FAA. The privacy proposal is
available on the FAA’s website –
Federal Register Request for Comment (Copy Only) (PDF).
Under the FAA privacy proposal each test site operator must ensure that its
privacy policies are informed by Fair Information Practice Principles, a widely
accepted framework of privacy principles at the core of numerous federal and
state privacy laws.
Each site operator and its team members will be required to operate in
accordance with federal, state and other laws regarding the protection of an
individual’s right to privacy. If the U.S. Department of Justice or a state’s
law enforcement authority files criminal or civil charges over a potential
violation of such laws, the FAA may take appropriate action, including
suspending or modifying the agreement authorizing test site operations until
the privacy proceedings are completed. If the proceedings demonstrate the
operation was in violation of the law, the FAA may terminate the operating agreement.
Prior to the close of the Federal Register comment period, the FAA will host
an online listening session to solicit additional comments on the proposed
privacy approach. The agency will publish a notice providing details for the
listening session sufficiently in advance with full details.
The request for comments on the proposed UAS test site privacy approach,
including instructions for filing comments, will be published in the Federal
Register and the public will have 60 days to comment. The FAA will post all
comments it receives, without change, to:http://www.regulations.gov,
including any personal information the commenter provides.
FAA Requests Proposals for UAS Research and Test Sites
February 15, 2013