This blog post highlights several recent publications and developments related to the integration of Unmanned Aerial Systems (“UAS”) into the National Airspace System (“NAS”). Each has been summarized below.
First, on August 17, 2015, the United States Government Accountability Office published a report entitled: Unmanned Aerial Systems – FAA Continues Progress Toward Integration into the National Airspace. This report highlights the progress FAA has made towards its goal of integrating UAS into the NAS, but cautions that significant challenges, in particular technological shortfalls, remain.
Second, on August 28, 2015, FAA released a beta version of a smartphone “App” named “B4UFLY.” Released to approximately 1,000 beta users, B4UFLY will help UAS pilots determine whether it is safe and legal to operate UAS at locations specified by the user. For example, the App would show a UAS operator that flights are prohibited in the Special Flight Rules Area around Washington, D.C. The beta version will run for several months before being made available to the general public.
Third, in early September, FAA appointed Marke “Hoot” Gibson and Earl Lawrence for two executive-level positions to facilitate the safe, timely, and efficient integration of UAS in the NAS. Each has significant governmental and aviation related experience. Their appointment highlights FAA’s increasing urgency with regards to integrating UAS into the NAS.