The FAA has selected 10 state, local, and tribal governments to conduct flight tests as part of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.
“We know our diverse new partners will help us address a broad range of complex drone integration challenges, “ said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell. “The fields that could see immediate opportunities from the program include commerce, photography, emergency management, public safety, precision agriculture and infrastructure inspections.”
The 10 programs are:
- Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, Oklahoma
- City of San Diego, California
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority, Herndon, Virginia
- Kansas Department of Transportation
- Lee County Mosquito Control District
- Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- North Dakota Department of Transportation
- City of Reno, Nevada
- University of Alaska-Fairbanks
Over the next two and a half years, those selected will collect drone data involving night operations, flights over people and beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies, and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft, FAA officials noted.
The data collected from these operations will help the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FAA craft new rules that allow more complex low-altitude operations, identify ways to balance local and national interests related to UAS integration, improve communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions, address security and privacy risks, and accelerate the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations, according to federal officials.
First announced last October, this White House initiative partners the FAA with local, state and tribal governments, which then partner with private industry to safely explore the further integration of drone operations.
The program will help tackle the most significant challenges to integrating drones into the national airspace and will reduce risks to public safety and security, FAA officials said.
According to the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems, the potential economic benefit of drones in the nation’s air space, in less than a decade, is estimated at $82 billion and could create 100,000 jobs.