Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have now voted to pass, and the President has now signed, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 (the “Act”). The Act, which averts a shutdown of the FAA, funds the agency through September 30, 2017. Importantly, the Act contains a number of provisions related to unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”), including FAA requirements to:
- Publish guidance regarding the application for, and expedited approval of, exemptions or certificates of authorization or waiver for the use of UAS by civil or public operators in response to emergencies;
- Continue developing a research plan for the deployment of a traffic management system for UAS;
- Establish a pilot program for airspace hazard mitigation at airports and other critical infrastructure using UAS detection systems; and
- Develop a program, in coordination with NASA, to test and model the collision of UAS with various sized aircraft in a number of operational settings.