Seizing on remarks by a White House official delivered at a recent trade show, a group of 29 organizations, manufacturers, and drone users appealed for a collaborative approach to regulation in the form of a pilot program to coordinate state, local, and tribal efforts to safely integrate unmanned aircraft without compromising federal control of the national airspace.
AOPA was among 29 signatories to an Oct. 11 letter to President Donald Trump, sent a week after Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios delivered a 20-minute speech at Drone World Expo in San Jose, California. Kratsios praised drones and drone pilots for their role in responding to recent disasters, and echoed the assessment of many analysts expecting the technology to create jobs on a large scale.
The drone advocates and organizations, including the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Small UAV Coalition, along with online retailer Amazon, and package delivery giant UPS (both of which are actively working to integrate unmanned aircraft into their massive logistics chains), urged the White House to build on previous government-industry collaboration.
“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,” the letter states. “We are pleased that your administration has also identified this as a sensible approach.”
A pilot program driven by data, working within a controlled operational environment, would “explore the best options for states and municipalities to address their needs,” the groups noted. “Overall though, the FAA sovereignty of the national airspace must not be compromised.”
The message was much the same as a previous appeal to Congress signed by AOPA and others in June that urged caution in legislating the roles and responsibilities of drone regulation. With the Drone Advisory Committee (of which AOPA is a member) and other FAA and industry collaborations working to sort out the most sensible approach to protecting privacy and maintaining security as the industry rapidly expands, groups including AOPA have cautioned against a decentralized approach, noting that consistency and buy-in from all parties involved, including local governments, is essential to realizing the young industry’s potential.