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Drone integration program launched

The U.S. Department of Transportation launched the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program Nov. 2, aiming to draw state, local, and tribal governments into collaborations that will accelerate the approval of advanced operations such as flights over people or package delivery at low altitudes. Public and private entities filled up slots for live webinars Nov. 3 and 6 to learn more about the program.

President Donald Trump looks at a drone with Kespry CEO George Mathew (R) during an event highlighting emerging technologies, in the East Room at the White House. The federal government has now launched a program, at the president's direction, seeking to accelerate safe integration of unmanned aircraft. Photo by Jonathan Ernst, Reuters.

State, local, and tribal governments will take the lead in applying for participation in the pilot program, and will serve as the primary point of contact with the FAA on individual projects, which will remain subject to FAA oversight. The program was launched Nov. 2, a week after President Donald Trump ordered it to be created.

Additional details are provided in a Federal Register notice, which was made available on the FAA’s website as part of the rollout. When the notice is officially published in the Federal Register, this will mark the start of a time-limited period during which government entities and other interested parties may apply to participate. Webinars including live Q&A sessions filled up quickly with participants.

The program calls for government entities to partner with private-sector UAS operators and manufacturers to conduct advanced operations, such as flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) or over people at altitudes below 200 feet or, in some cases, under 400 feet.

“The Program is expected to provide immediate opportunities for new and expanded commercial UAS operations, foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the Department of Transportation (DOT) on expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS),” the FAA noted in its online overview, which also included links for public and private entities to apply for admission to the program.

The FAA will collect data generated in the course of these advanced operations, and maintain oversight throughout the program.

“The results will help to inform safe UAS operations and help to transition many of the new and novel operational concepts that we manage today by exception into routine, commonplace aspects of our everyday lives,” the FAA noted in a press release.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Unmanned Aircraft

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