A group of drone industry leaders including advocacy groups like AUVSI, the AMA, and the Small UAV Coalition, along with a long list of companies including industry giants Intel, Verizon, UPS and Amazon along with manufacturers DJI, PrecisionHawk, GoPro and others sent a letter to President Trump last week. In the letter, the authors ask President Trump to help to coordinate state and local drone laws.
“Innovation has been integral to America’s economic success and it will also play a crucial role in its future,” begins the letter. “A technology that shows great promise and tremendous benefits to continue moving our nation’s economy forward is unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which is forecast to create more than 100,000 jobs and over $82 billion in economic impact over the next decade.”
The letter points out that work will need to be done in order to realize the potential of the drone industry – and expresses the industry’s willingness to collaborate with government. The letter goes on to ask directly that the president help to establish a program to coordinate state, local and FAA efforts to create drone laws.
“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. We are pleased that your administration has also identified this as a sensible approach,” says the letter.
“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. Additionally, a pilot program is the best option for informing future regulatory and congressional action that will help enhance innovation and increase economic impact.”
“Overall though, the FAA 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.”
The letter is the latest response to the continually growing problem of state and local drone regulations, which continue to proliferate despite the FAA’s efforts to establish control over regulations and administrator Michael Huerta’s warnings that more state and local drone laws will lead to a confusing “patchwork quilt” of regulations.
While both government and industry began with attempts to establish FAA preemption, in recent months the FAA has recently appeared to soften its stance, saying instead that state and local governments should be part of a collaborative process.