[Editor’s Note: Since the original publication of this article, the Senate has passed the FAA Reauthorization Bill and it has been sent to the White House. ]
Today, thousands of small unmanned aircraft systems are entering the airspace, which can affect the safety and security of other aircraft. As a result, the Aerospace Industries Association is asking Congress to pass the final agreement on the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018. The last FAA reauthorization bill was passed in 2012 and many UAS were restricted. The Reauthorization Act of 2018 is striving to introduce Congressional oversight on UAS policies and procedures.
“Our industry is innovating at breakneck speed and it is critical that government funding and regulation keep pace,” said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning in a recent statement. “This long-overdue legislation will help U.S. manufacturers stay at the forefront of an increasingly competitive global marketplace for commercial aircraft, while supporting new entrants to the marketplace in the years ahead. We strongly urge Congress to pass it right away.”
When the FAA reauthorization bill passed in 2012, it banned UAS systems. Since then, UAS have played a significant role in the reshaping of today’s airspace and requires funding for infrastructure. The 2018 multi-year authorization will grant funding to keep up with the pace of innovation. It will help to ensure proper groundwork is completed for larger UAS, such as taxis and cargo systems that are likely to enter the airspace in the near future. This bill streamlines the FAA’s current procedures and allows innovation in aircraft certification and entrance into the airspace.
A key focus of the bill is to help U.S. manufacturers modernize the air traffic control system and improve aviation safety by streamlining procedures for certifying new aircraft technologies and modifications to existing technologies, as well as allowing them to push products to market faster. In addition, acceptance of safety directives by foreign aviation authorities will be expedited, and the FAA will work with foreign agencies to ensure U.S. manufacturers are meeting global regulations. The bill will also provide updated regulations regarding supersonic aircraft and establish programs to encourage youth and women to join the U.S. aviation workforce.
In addition to AIA’s support, at ATCA’s Annual event, Small UAS Update panelists, Tom McMahon of AUVSI, and Matthew Satterley of AirMap, discussed the importance of this new legislation to support the growing use and management of UAS and drones.
The legislation is currently on the Senate floor and is being supported by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), who spoke yesterday regarding the provisions that support the educational use of UAS. View his video testimony here.