In late June, both chambers of Congress introduced their own versions of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill. With Congress in recess for the remainder of August and the current FAA extension expiring at the end of September, it appears increasingly unlikely that either bill will make it to the President’s desk. If Congress is unable to pass a full FAA Reauthorization bill, then it will need to pass an extension. Given the unique needs of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS or drone) industry, the extension could include some of the common elements addressed in both the House and Senate Reauthorization bills. Continue reading →
In light of the FAA’s new rule (or Part 107) for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry has eagerly pushed the U.S. government to initiate testing of drone delivery systems. Although Part 107 suggests the FAA will likely expand the uses of drones, the rule does not allow for such drone applications in the National Airspace System (NAS). Among the various companies expressing interests in using drones to deliver goods, are industry giants Amazon PrimeAir (Amazon) and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Continue reading →
Tomorrow, July 17, 2015, the first testing of small unmanned aircraft system (“sUAS”) package deliveries is expected to start in Wise County, West Virginia, through a collaborative group of Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) test site operators which include Virginia Tech, NASA, and Flirtey (an Australian-based sUAS delivery company). The group will deliver twenty-four packages of prescription medication, weighing up to ten pounds each, to a free medical health clinic. The authorization demonstrates the FAA’s interest in new UAS applications and UAS safety data for future rulemakings.
The testing is designed to determine the sUAS’ ability to reach patients in rural areas who do not have access to basic health services. NASA will fly the prescription medications from distant pharmacies to the local airport and the Flirtey hexacopter sUAS will deliver the packages to the clinic in Wise County. The use of the sUAS is expected to cut the delivery time—normally one-hour—to fifteen minutes. The success of this testing will be beneficial for commercial operators who want the FAA to develop rules for package delivery beyond visual line-of-sight (“VLOS”) operations.