Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), has issued the following statement on the introduction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016. The legislation was introduced by chairman John Thune and ranking member Bill Nelson of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
“While we are still reviewing the specifics of the Senate FAA reauthorization bill, we want to thank chairman Thune and ranking member Nelson for their leadership on this issue and their recognition of the importance of commercial UAS operations. Like Sens. Thune and Nelson, AUVSI is committed to ensuring that UAS are integrated in a manner that ensures the safety of all aircraft — both manned and unmanned.
“ FAA reauthorization is an important step in expanding the commercial use of UAS that pose no additional risk to the nation’s airspace.
“The bill contains provisions for which AUVSI has been advocating during the last year. These policies will accelerate the safe use of commercial UAS as well as expand collaborative research and operational efforts. First, the bill seeks to expedite the safe deployment of commercial UAS by creating a risk-based permitting process, which will allow the FAA to accommodate innovation, rather than require new rules each time a new technology emerges.
“Second, the bill addresses the patchwork of laws cropping up at the state and local level that attempt to regulate the airspace — which only the FAA has the authority to do. A clear regulatory framework for UAS at the federal level will eliminate the need for states and municipalities to attempt to fill the void with laws that they may not have the authority to enforce.
“Finally, the bill calls for the development of a research plan for a UAS traffic management system that will help integrate UAS into the existing national airspace infrastructure and ensure the continued safety of the airspace. We look forward to working with the members of the committee to enhance the UAS sections of the bill and continue to move towards the safe and efficient development of UAS throughout the country.
“At the same time, we urge the Senate to pass this bill quickly, as delaying this measure risks stunting a still-nascent industry and restricting many of the beneficial ways that businesses could use UAS technology.
“Also, the FAA needs to continue finalizing its long-awaited rule for small UAS. This will provide a clear regulatory framework around UAS and allow for more widespread commercial use of the technology.
“Over 3,800 exemptions have been granted to companies and individuals across the nation that are adopting UAS technology to transform the way their businesses operate, and during the first decade after UAS integration, the industry is forecast to create over 100,000 jobs and more than $82 billion in economic impact. With the right regulatory environment, there’s no question these numbers could go even higher.”