The Federal Aviation Administration has announced a program to encourage commercial drone use, and one drone expert expects it will help the federal agency evaluate more advanced drone operations beyond line-of-sight flights while safely integrating drones into U.S. airspace.
The UAS Integration Pilot Program was established to bring together state, local and tribal governments and the private sector, including drone operators and manufacturers, to accelerate the safe use of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Those in the private sector who want to participate in the program and be listed as an interested party on the FAA’s website have until 1 p.m. Dec. 13 to notify the FAA via email.
“Any regulatory movement in a forward direction is good,” said Jim Robbins, an extension specialist for the Division of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas. “Overall, the regulatory situation has improved greatly over the past two years.
“I think those of us that have been pioneers in this field are encouraged by movement toward a more rational approach to safely integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace.”
Robbins’ efforts with drone use include issues such as evaluation of aircraft, sensors and software for agricultural stakeholders.
“Small unmanned aircraft systems [sUAS] will be a critical emerging technology that should be applied to many dirty, dangerous and dull tasks in a variety of applications,” Robbins said. “There needs to be a balance of input by users and regulatory bodies to ensure the safe adoption of this useful technology into our everyday lives.”
“On paper, this pilot program appears to be a very positive move in furthering the expansion of commercial sUAS use in the U.S,” he said.