Christina Cardoza

Feb 25, 2016 10:33:30 AM

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced it is establishing a new effort designed to expand the safe integration of unmanned aircraft. The FAA is creating a regulatory framework that would enable certain drones to fly over people who aren’t directly involved in the aircraft’s operation.

“The Department continues to be bullish on new technology,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We recognize the significant industry interest in expanding commercial access to the National Airspace System. The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety.”

An aviation rulemaking committee comprised of industry stakeholders such as UAS manufacturers, UAS operators, standards organizations, researchers and academics will work on developing recommendations for the framework. The committee will focus on performance-based standards for classifying drones that can operate safely over people; identify how drone manufacturers can comply with requirements; and recommend operational provisions based on the requirements. The FAA will take the committee's recommendations into consideration as it drafts up a proposal.

“Based on the comments about a ‘micro’ classification submitted as part of the small UAS proposed rule, the FAA will pursue a flexible, performance-based regulatory framework that addresses potential hazards instead of a classification defined primarily by weight and speed,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The UAS registration task force will serve as a model for the micro-UAS rulemaking committee, and will be co-chaired by Earl Lawrence, director of FAA’s UAS integration office, and Nancy Egan, general counsel for 3D Robotics.

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