Oct 2, 2015Deadline for integrating unmanned aerial systems into U.S. commercial airspace passes
As expected, the deadline for integrating unmanned aerial systems into U.S. commercial airspace has come and gone.
According to media reports, the Federal Aviation Administration made progress, but more work is needed.
The deadline to develop a framework to integrate drones and control systems into the National Airspace System (NAS) was set by Congress in a 2012 aviation funding bill.
However, the FAA has indicated that it would most likely push past the deadline. A June 2014 Department of Transportation Inspector General report stated the agency would miss the 2015 mark because of “significant technological barriers,” including detection and standardized air traffic procedures and other issues.
“In the 2012 FAA reauthorization legislation, Congress told the FAA to come up with a plan for ‘safe integration’ of UAS by September 30, 2015,” says the FAA’s UAS website. “Safe integration will be incremental,” the agency acknowledged, but noted that it has issued draft rules for commercial drones that weigh under 55 pounds and other measures to help move the process along.
“We are finalizing our final rule for small unmanned aircraft and will have that out next year,” an agency spokesperson told FCW. “Meanwhile, we’ve granted more than 1,700 exemptions to commercial operators through the Section 333 process. These operations are approved and authorized by the FAA so we can ensure the safety of the public. The FAA has successfully integrated new technologies in our aviation system for decades, and we’re confident we’ll do the same with unmanned aircraft.”
The FAA has a plan to move forward. Check back for updates.