UAS Integration Pilot Program

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According to recent reports, President Donald J. Trump is pushing U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao to launch an initiative that safely tests and validate advanced operations for drones in partnership with state and local governments in select jurisdictions. The UAS Integration Pilot Program implements a directive, signed by President Trump on October 25th, 2017, and the results will be used to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace and to realize the benefits of unmanned technology in our economy.

The program will assist with the challenges associated with integrating drones into the national airspace while reducing risks to public safety and security. Its designed to provide regulatory certainty and stability to local governments and communities, drone owners and operators who are accepted into the program.

READ MORE: Automated Access to Controlled Airspace

The program will help the USDOT and FAA develop a regulatory framework that will allow:

  • More complex low-altitude operations
  • Identify ways to balance local and national interests
  • Improve communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions
  • Address security and privacy risks
  • Accelerate the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations.

“This program supports the President’s commitment to foster technological innovation that will be a catalyst for ideas that have the potential to change our day-to-day lives,” said Secretary Chao.

Benefits Of The Program

In less than a decade, the potential economic benefit of integrated unmanned aerial systems into the nation’s airspace is estimated to equal up to $82 billion and create up to 100,000 jobs.* Industries that will benefit from the program include Commerce, Enterprise, Emergency Management, Infrastructure Inspection and Monitoring, Photography and Cinematography, Precision Agriculture and more.

The pilot program will evaluate a variety of operational concepts, including

  • Counter-UAS Security Operations
  • Detect and Avoid Technology
  • Drone Delivery
  • Flights BVLOS
  • Night Flight Operations
  • Reliability and Security of Data Links Between Pilot and Aircraft

“Stakeholders will have the opportunity through this program to demonstrate how their innovative technological and operational solutions can address complex unmanned aircraft integration challenges,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “At the same time, the program recognizes the importance of community participation in meaningful discussions about balancing local and national interests related to integrating unmanned aircraft.”

Prospective local government participants are encouraged to partner with the private sector to develop pilot proposals. After evaluating all of the applications, the U.S. Department of Transportation will invite a minimum of five partnerships. In the coming days, the Department will publish a Federal Register Notice with more details about how applications will be evaluated and how the program will work.

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