The Federal Aviation Administration understands its drone work has only just begun, and it needs to work with the industry in order to organize, manage and refocus its priorities while preserving the growth of innovation. The administration unveiled plans to launch a broad advisory committee that will advise the FAA on key unmanned issues at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2016 event in New Orleans today.
“We know that we don’t have all the answers. We need to have a pipeline so the bright minds of our stakeholders can channel their ideas directly to us,” said Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator.
The committee, which will be lead by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, is meant to promote cooperation, collaboration, respect, trust and commitment between the FAA and the drone industry. “Collaboration is something I see as a two-way approach,” Huerta said. “Safety is a shared responsibility.”
According to Huerta, the committee will help the FAA tackle bigger challenges. The three high-level priorities the organization has identified include: 1. Safely integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace; 2. Creating an environment where emerging technology can be safely and rapidly introduced; and 3. Shaking up global standards and practices through international collaboration.
These priorities will be the backbone of a comprehensive strategy the FAA plans to unveil in the near future.
The committee will have a broad, long-term commitment, and it is expected to be officially launched this summer. “Input from stakeholders is critical to our ability to achieve that perfect balance between integration and safety,” Huerta said. “We know that our policies and overall regulation of this segment of aviation will be more successful if we have the backing of a strong, diverse coalition.”
In addition, Huerta announced the FAA’s plans to start making it easier for students to operate drones for educational and research purposes. Students and schools will no longer be required to obtain a Section 333 exemption as well as any other authorization to fly a drone. “Schools and universities are incubators for tomorrow’s great ideas, and we think this is going to be a significant shot in the arm for innovation,” Huerta said.
Going forward, he says the FAA hopes to look at challenges from different perspectives and evolve its approach to unmanned systems.
“We recognize that we have to find the right balance…without stifling innovation,” Huerta said.