Federal program could speed up commercial drone use

Local, state and tribal governments to partner with private sector

A presidential memorandum recently established a new program to integrate more drones into the national airspace system.

Through the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program, state, local and tribal governments could apply for a waiver to test drone operations in ways not currently allowed under FAA rules.

The new program aims to make it easier to use drones for both public and private use, for package delivery, emergency situations, farming, and more.

“It shall be the policy of the United States to promote the safe operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and enable the development of UAS technologies for use in agriculture, commerce, emergency management, human transportation, and other sectors,” the memorandum states.

The FAA is looking for applications submitted jointly from states or municipalities and commercial entities.

The information learned from these tests will help inform the development of regulations, initiatives and plans to enable safer and more complex drone operations.

“Stakeholders will have the opportunity through this program to demonstrate how their innovative technological and operational solutions can address complex unmanned aircraft integration challenges,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a news release.

“At the same time, the program recognizes the importance of community participation in meaningful discussions about balancing local and national interests related to integrating unmanned aircraft.”