Last month marked the second meeting of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The meeting was held in Reno, Nevada and offered DAC members their first substantive opportunity to address a wide variety of issues related to the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones), including preemption, access to airspace, and funding UAS integration.
Administrator Michael Huerta created the DAC in May 2016, and the group held an organizational meeting in September. The DAC draws from a large variety of UAS stakeholders, including UAS manufacturers, corporations utilizing UAS, academics, pilots, researchers, and representatives of manned aircraft interests. Administrator Huerta tasked the DAC to develop guidance on UAS issues, advise on existing gaps in the UAS integration strategy, and provide recommendations to the FAA.
During the first DAC meeting, members laid the grounds for future efforts to address various UAS issues, including certification, preemption, privacy, and access to airspace. During this second meeting, the DAC members confirmed three different task groups and began discussions on these issues.
The Task Group on Roles and Responsibilities will focus on preemption issues related to state/local and federal authorities regulating UAS operations. Preemption issues have become increasingly common as UAS become more widespread and states pass UAS legislation. For more insight, read our blog post: Drone Operations Near Wildfires Spark New Laws and Technological Advances. The Task Group on Access to Airspace focuses on “technological and regulatory mechanisms” to allow drone operators to fly in the NAS beyond the small UAS rule (also known as Part 107) restrictions. Many industries and stakeholders are eager for the FAA to allow operations outside the parameters of Part 107 without case-by-case review. The DAC also discussed and approved the formation of a third Task Group on Budget and Cost to consider how to secure the funding necessary to integrate UAS in the NAS.
Anyone can attend DAC meetings and present written statements to the committee at any time. More information is available in the Federal Register Notice. The next meeting will be held on May 3, 2017, but the location has not yet been determined.