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AOPA backs drone preemptionAOPA backs drone preemption

Joins groups opposed to state and local authorityJoins groups opposed to state and local authority

Editor's note: This article was updated Aug. 6 to correct the headline. AOPA regrets the error.
AOPA joined a coalition of drone industry and general aviation groups calling for the defeat of an amendment to the pending FAA reauthorization bill that would allow state and local regulation of drones, citing harm that would result.
The Federal Aviation Administration is one of the many government agencies that have influence over general aviation. Photo by David Tulis.

In a July 31 letter, AOPA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the National Business Aviation Association, and Helicopter Association International joined the Small UAV Coalition, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and others in unified opposition to an amendment drafted by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would allow state and local governments to regulate deliveries by unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The groups argued that Lee’s amendment would undercut the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978’s provisions that preclude regulation of air carriers by state and local governments, with negative effects on both manned and unmanned operations.

“If adopted, the amendment would … [create] inefficiencies that will stifle innovation and discourage investment and competition,” the groups wrote in the letter to all U.S. senators. “This will inhibit the United States from embracing the economic potential and consumer benefits of drone delivery, which other countries—including China, Australia, Canada, and Switzerland—have already embraced and continue to compete for investment in this technology.”

The groups noted that unmanned aircraft are capable of both commercial and humanitarian delivery missions, including disaster relief, and “a patchwork of regulations would impede efforts to meet these unexpected and time-sensitive needs.”

The groups noted that Lee’s amendment would also set back the U.S. Department of Transportation Drone Integration Pilot Program, which is now testing various unmanned technologies with an eye on expanding approved uses of drones for applications including cardiac defibrillator delivery and mosquito control.

“The amendment would not only impede operations under IPP, but also undermine one of its core missions and discourage others from seeking to participate in this exciting and important initiative,” the July 31 letter states.

The House approved a five-year FAA reauthorization bill in April with a 393-13 vote. The Senate has not yet scheduled a vote, with a number of issues still to be resolved.

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: Advocacy, Unmanned Aircraft, Aircraft Regulation

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