U.S. Senate’s Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security met for a hearing on Tuesday, May 8th, to discuss Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt chaired the hearing. A panel with representatives from private-sector associations, drone technology companies, and the FAA, answered questions and gave testimonies.
Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), addressed the critical steps necessary for expanded operations of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). In his testimony, Wynne applauded the FAA reauthorization bill recently passed by the House of Representatives as a positive step in furthering the regulatory framework.
“AUVSI participated in the Aviation Rulemaking Committee to provide recommendations for remotely identifying and tracking operators and owners of UAS, working towards implementing a remote ID system that identifies any UAS flying in the airspace — in real time,” Wynne said. “To the extent more needs to be done, we need broader engagement from our government partners, notably those responsible for national security, to understand their specific concerns and work collaboratively to address them.”
Collaboration between industry and government at all levels is necessary for UAS integration to move forward. Wynne cited the UAS Integration Pilot Program as an example of such cooperation, as the program “will offer a data-driven approach to allow for expanded UAS operations, including beyond line of sight, and UAS traffic management concept without infringing on the U.S. government’s jurisdiction over the national airspace.”
This afternoon, the Department of Transportation announced the applicants selected for the UAS Integration Pilot Program. The 10 applicants include:
- City of Reno and Flirtey
- Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
- Lee County Mosquito Control District of Florida
- University of Alaska at Fairbanks
- City of San Diego, California
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority
- North Dakota Department of Transportation
- Kansas Department of Transportation
- Virginia Tech
FAA Director Earl Lawrence told the Senate subcommittee that remote identification and a traffic management system UTM) for unmanned aircraft are "the next key" in UAS integration. Lawrence said the FAA isn’t waiting for the rule to be developed to begin testing remote identification capabilities. He also cited the UAS Integration Pilot Program and how it will help provide useful, real-world data for remote identification and UTM development.