On Wednesday, November 29, the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation, Chaired by Rep. LoBiondo (R-NJ) with Ranking Member Rep. Larsen (D-WA) held a hearing on "Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Emerging Uses in a Changing National Airspace," focused on the need to continue work on integrating UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) into the National Airspace, while protecting safety and security.
The hearing's two witness panels included representatives of the UAS industry and companies utilizing the technology, and current FAA Administrator, Daniel Elwell, and the Director of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, Earl Lawrence. Their testimony and the Subcommittee members' questions focused on the positive impact that UAS can have for the economy (creating jobs) and various industries (making routine work, such as maintenance and inspections, safer and more efficient), and the challenges of working in a continually shifting regulatory framework. They also stressed the need for clear regulations for UAS use, and the need for the government to engage with the UAS industry on concerns like geofencing, remote identification systems, and other security issues. The FAA representatives discussed the progress of their rulemaking for UAS, including rules for remote identification, and steps toward "detect and avoid" technology, which could prevent collisions in the sky.
The FAA released its small UAS rulemaking in August 2016, and was expected to follow-up with rules allowing over-crowd flights and beyond-visual-line of sight flights for micro-UAS; however, those rulemakings have been delayed. In November 2017, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, Congress reinstated the requirement that all UAS - whether for commercial or recreational use - be registered with the FAA. NAR has been very active with both Congress and the FAA as they continue their work to integrate UAS, and sent a letter to the Subcommittee on Aviation for this hearing stressing the need for continued rulemaking to allow UAS technology to meet its full potential, while protecting the safety of the NAS and people on the ground.