In prepared testimony for the House Small Business Committee, AUVSI president and CEO Brian Wynne recently emphasized the impact that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can have on small businesses and encouraged integration of these systems into the National Airspace System. He also called for the passing of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization measure before the current authorization expires in September.

“Since Congress tasked the FAA with creating UAS regulations in 2012, the technology has gone from a specialized tool to a must-have business asset,” Wynne said. “The flood of commercial exemption requests to the FAA shows that a mature UAS commercial market is waiting to be unleashed.”

Since the exemption process began in May 2014, more than 700 businesses have received permission to operate UAS commercially, the vast majority of which are small businesses. Wynne highlighted three such businesses in his testimony: PrecisionHawk, an aerial surveying company based in North Carolina; Aerial Mob, a California-based film company; and realtor Douglas Trudeau, who uses UAS to photograph his listings in Arizona. The success of these businesses, Wynne said, demonstrates the need for the FAA to finalize the rules for small UAS as soon as possible in order to establish a framework “that will allow anyone who follows the rules to fly.”

The UAS industry wants to see the integration of UAS proceed without any further delays, Wynne said. For that reason, it’s important that the FAA finalize the small UAS rules as quickly as possible, so that small businesses from every industry can take advantage of the technology. “The FAA continues to approve about 50 new commercial operations a week, a process that has been recently streamlined. However, this current system of case-by-case approvals – whether streamlined or not – isn’t a long-term solution for the many small businesses wanting to fly.”

According to a 2013 economic impact study by AUVSI, the UAS industry stands to create more than 100,000 new jobs and more than $82 billion in economic impact within the first ten years following UAS integration.

The world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) represents more than 7,500 members from 60-plus allied countries involved in the fields of government, industry and academia. AUVSI members work in the defense, civil and commercial markets.