On Wednesday, July 13, the Senate voted to pass H.R. 636, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016, which the House passed on Monday, July 11. This bill reauthorizes the FAA through September 30, 2017. Previous attempts at a more long-term extension failed, due to the inclusion of a controversial measure in the House bill to privatize the TSA. H.R. 636 was a compromise between the two chambers, and does not contain the privatization measure.
H.R. 636 has several provisions relating to the commercial use of UAS. These include:
- Reauthorizes UAS test sites for three years;
- Creates a pilot program to study airspace hazard mitigation using UAS detection systems;
- Allows the FAA to authorizize Section 333 exemption holders to operate UAS for beyond-visual-line-of-sight and night flights.
The bill has been sent to the President to sign into law. The previous authorization for the FAA expires on Friday, July 15.