A few days ago, the White House told the FAA that they had just three months to implement an UAS Integration Pilot Program to integrate drones into national airspace. To everyone’s surprise, the FAA was ready with a program almost immediately after the White House’s statement.
The FAA’s plan was meant to match governments at the state, local, and tribal levels with UAS manufacturers. These teams would then be able to apply to the FAA to have test zones set up; the airspace integration data could then be sent to the FAA.
According to a Federal Register Notice, the program was created to “solve technical, regulatory, and policy challenges, while enabling advanced UAS operation in select areas,” while working with various levels of government. Drone integration will hopefully happen more quickly with this program in place.
FAA hopes that this program will meet four goals:
- Aid in identifying the best, most efficient methods of incorporating local and national interests in drone integration
- Acknowledge and address privacy and safety concerns involving drones flying near people and property by facilitating dialogue between pilots and governments
- Integrate drones into national airspace safely and quickly through testing equipment in specific test zones; drones will be examined for navigation, detection and avoidance, and how they respond to various weather conditions
- Encourage innovation and development in the UAS industry
The FAA has been criticized for being slow to respond to the growing demand of drones in the United States, and many companies and pilots feel that the FAA could be doing more. Recently, the FAA filed an emergency request to automate the application and approval process for pilots who wish to fly their drones in controlled airspace; so many applications were coming in that the FAA could not keep up with them.
Data that will be obtained via pilots’ own projects will be used by the FAA and the government to develop regulations regarding drone usage, including regulations surrounding the usage of drones in search-and-rescue missions, food delivery, and filming video for news segments.