The new committee set up by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is to be led by Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, to guide it on the incorporated of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace.
The committee’s formation could be linked to plans by the FAA to nail down much-awaited rules and regulations for the commercial operation of drones, which will probably make way for the widely circulated use of the airborne devices for deliveries and other applications by companies like Google and Amazon.com.
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“By late spring, we plan to finalize Part 107, our small UAS rule, which will allow for routine commercial drone operations,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta said in a speech at a drone event.
Huerta also mentioned in January that the rules and regulations would be perfected at the end of spring, but there has been doubt about the truth as the process has suffered delays, including escaping a September deadline mandated by the Congress.
The new drone advisory committee members will include representatives from a wide range of organizations with interests in drones, including operators and manufacturers, pilots, application service providers, the FAA, NASA, representatives of manned aviation, and the Department of Defense.
The final selection of advisory committee members by the FAA is expected to be done latest by May 31, said the agency. The designated federal official on the committee will be Huerta. He will be there to represent and as well as mouthpiece for the government.
By the time the advisory committee becomes operational, issues affecting owning, usage, and other regulations will be set. The panel of committee’s decision will finally pay off, if the policy and conditions arrived at are not too strict for commercial intended users. Favorable rules and conditions for drone users will generate more funds into the government purse.
Unlike the UAS registration task force, which came up with recommendations for the registration of UAS devices, and the micro UAS aviation rule-making committee set up recently by the FAA for a single function and fixed duration, this newly set up advisory committee on drone is aimed to be a long-existing group that will basically serve the same function as the FAA’s NextGen Advisory Committee, says Huerta.
The FAA had proposed a draft rules in February last year, which would likely allow programs similar to that of Amazon for the delivery of commercial packages by drones to commence. But the commercially designed drones would still function under strict atmosphere such as a maximum weight of 55 pounds (25 kilograms), maximum of 500 feet (152 meters) flight altitude, and conditions that fix flights to daylight operations and the visual line-of-sight of the operators.
Some companies have been pushing for more lenient rules especially that on the line-of-sight demand.
Last month, the Senate passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016, which, while acknowledging the opportunities for the extensive use of drones for commercial purposes, desires to impose safety rules and technologies like geo-fencing to check the reckless use of consumer drones by hobbyists.
Although still awaiting the approval of the House of Representatives, this legislation also tries to avoid a “patchwork quilt” of rules by states and local authorities by giving the FAA rules the right to purchase over local and state laws regulating the use of drones.