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President Donald Trump directed the United States Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, on Oct. 25 to launch an initiative to safely test and validate advanced operations for drones in partnership with state and local governments in select jurisdictions.
The unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program implements a directive signed by President Trump on Oct. 25.
The program will help tackle the most significant challenges in integrating drones into the national airspace, while reducing risks to public safety and security. The program is designed to provide regulatory certainty and stability to local governments, communities, UAS owners and operators who are accepted into the program.
In less than a decade, the potential economic benefit of integrated unmanned aerial systems into the nation’s airspace is estimated to equal up to $82 billion and create up to 100,000 jobs.
The pilot program will evaluate a variety of operational concepts, including night operations, flights over people, flights beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies, counter-UAS security operations, and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft.
Industries that could see immediate opportunities from the program include commerce, photography, emergency management, precision agriculture, and infrastructure inspections and monitoring.
In related news from AUVSI, Brian Wynne, president and chief executive officer of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said, “The pilot program will offer a data-driven approach to allow for expanded UAS operations, including beyond line of sight, and UAS traffic management concepts. It will also provide a mechanism for state, local and tribal officials to contribute their views to the UAS policy framework, without infringing on the U.S. government’s jurisdiction over the national airspace. Maintaining federal authority of the airspace will help foster innovation and allow states, municipalities and tribes to tap into the full potential of UAS, while continuing to keep our skies safe.”
For more information about the Drone Integration Pilot Program, visit the Department of Transportation’s website.