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News & Notes

FAA Administrator Comments on Drone Industry and Integration

More than 770,000 drone owners have registered with the FAA

March 29, 2017

Screenshot/FAA
The 2017 FAA UAS Symposium, which is put on in collaboration with AUVSI, began on March 27 and concludes today. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta opened the event with a speech highlighting how crucial collaboration and technology are for integrating drones into the national airspace.

He also released updated numbers from the FAA on the growth of the drone industry:
  • More than 37,000 Remote Pilot Certificates have been issued as of March 27
  • Since drone owner FAA registration has been required, more than 770,000 people have registered
  • The B4UFLY app, which allows users to see if they’re flying in airspace that’s restricted or requires approval, has been downloaded more than 200,000 times

While those numbers are impressive, Huerta admits that those steps were the easy part of the integration process. Fully integrating drones into the National Airspace System (NAS) is going to be much more complicated, especially since security concerns must still be addressed.
He also announced a new Aviation Rulemaking Committee to help create standards for “remotely identifying and tracking unmanned aircraft during operations.” The committee will be made up of aviation, technology, law enforcement, and safety stakeholders.

DJI recently released a white paper outlining a concept for an electronic identification framework for UAS.

“Anyone with the proper receiver could obtain those transmissions from the drone, but only law enforcement officials or aviation regulators would be able to use that registration number to identify the registered owner,” DJI said in a press release. “This system would be similar to automotive license plates, which allow anyone to identify a nearby vehicle they believe is operating improperly, but which can only be traced to their owner and operator by authorities.”

Huerta touched on how quickly drone tech had changed from his two CES visits in the past.

“If you can dream it, drone manufacturers are building it. Some of the latest models can sense and avoid obstacles in their paths. Others can fit in your pocket, or be used underwater. A few have even automated the ‘selfie’ game,” Huerta said.

But he believes the industry needs to focus on more than the “bells and whistles that come with unmanned aircraft.” Instead, Huerta urges the industry to use technology to help solve the safety and security challenges that the FAA faces when it comes to drones.

“The way I see it, the more problems industry can solve itself using technology, the better,” Huerta said. “You’re going to do it more quickly and efficiently than the FAA ever could through regulations.”
Featured image: Featured image: pixabay/hongmyeon