A hearing today before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's aviation subcommittee regarding the safe utilization of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) highlights the urgent need for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue federal regulations for the burgeoning industry, said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
"It is clear that lawmakers share our concerns about the widespread proliferation of UAS without clear guidance, or definitive regulation of the industry," Bolen said immediately following the hearing. "It is now more apparent than it's ever been that we urgently need guidance, through the established rulemaking process, which produces a national regulatory framework that enhances safety and creates a reliable set of operating procedures for UAS operators and the broader public alike."
Testifying at the hearing “Ensuring Aviation Safety in the Era of Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” were Michael G. Whitaker, FAA deputy administrator; James Hubbard, deputy chief for state and private forestry with the U.S. Forest Service; Capt. Tim Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association; Rich Hanson, director of government and regulatory affairs for the Academy of Model Aeronautics; and Dr. Mykel Kochenderfer, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford University.
A primary topic at the hearing was the FAA’s failure to meet a three-year-old, congressionally mandated Sept. 30 deadline to implement regulations governing the use of small unmanned aircraft systems, or s-UAS. The agency issued a proposed framework earlier this year, but final rules aren’t expected before 2016.
In his testimony, Deputy Administrator Whitaker noted: “FAA does not underestimate the importance of integrating the range of UAS technology into the NAS, but there are significant safety challenges that must be mitigated for this to occur.”
Bolen echoed that sentiment, noting that NBAA has been directly involved for years in efforts to assist the FAA in moving ahead on UAS policies and regulations in a deliberative, though expeditious, manner.
With that objective in view, NBAA has long maintained that it is imperative that any introduction plan for UAS be focused on safety. This means UAS should not share the same airspace with manned aircraft until they have equivalent certification and airworthiness standards as manned aircraft, including the ability to take timely directions from air traffic control, and to sense and avoid other aircraft and UAS.
NBAA personnel have participated in UAS working groups through RTCA for nearly 10 years, and the Association has unveiled an expansive online resource covering developments in the UAS industry of importance to the business aviation community. View NBAA’s online UAS resource.
Earlier this year, NBAA also joined the "Know Before You Fly" educational initiative to provide prospective users with the information and guidance they need to fly UAS safely and responsibly. NBAA has also expanded the presence of UAS-related materials and seminars, with sessions at the Association’s events addressing the safe operation of UAS, as well as their potential uses within the business aviation industry.
A variety of informative UAS events, presentations and demonstrations are planned during NBAA's upcoming 2015 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA2015) taking place Nov. 17 to 19 in Las Vegas, NV.
"Today's hearing illustrated that our industry must continue to not only work with the FAA and other government officials to facilitate the safe introduction of UAS into the national airspace system, but also to ensure the process moves forward in as timely a manner as feasible," Bolen concluded. "We will continue to remain invested in the important work to be done in this area."
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