The following information was released by the office of Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar:
Unmanned Systems Congressional Caucus Co-Chairs Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-CA, spearheaded a briefing with the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday to discuss updates on the expansion of the integration of UAVs into the National Airspace System (NAS).
“Unmanned aircraft systems have come to play an important role in the mission of our military and law enforcement agencies,” said Cuellar. “We have to ensure that we work to enhance the accessibility of the usage of unmanned aircraft systems while adhering to all safety standards.”
“The Unmanned Systems Congressional Caucus will continue to work with the FAA to ensure that the integration plan is a success,” said Cuellar. “I look forward to continue working with my colleagues in Congress and in the FAA and law enforcement. This is cutting-edge technology that has proven to be an invaluable resource for those who are tasked with securing our communities.”
The FAA Reauthorization Bill, which was recently signed into law, included a provision to develop a plan for the integration of UAVs into the National Airspace System (NAS). The FAA is working with the Department of Defense to develop the integration standards using their experience in the field and safety records. The NAS integration plan is scheduled to meet its 2015 deadline.
“Unmanned systems give our armed forces a definitive edge in combat operations,” said McKeon. “The FAA Modernization and Reform Act simply reduces a pre-existing timeline for the FAA to integrate UAS into national airspace.”
The FAA also briefed the Caucus on another FAA Reauthorization Bill provision calling for the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the NAS at six test ranges. The Request for Comment has been posted by the FAA on the Federal Register. The RFC will be published on Friday and will remain posted for comment for 60 days.
The Caucus discussed the FAA’s ongoing work to facilitate utilization of unmanned air systems by rural law enforcement agencies. The FAA Reauthorization Bill has a provision designed to benefit these agencies. It requires, within 90 days of enactment, that public users of aircraft that weigh less than 4.4 pounds get a one-time Certificate of Approval (COA) from the FAA. The FAA will work with the Department of Justice to help guide these agencies in the COA process.
The Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus was created to educate members of Congress and the public on the strategic, tactical, and scientific value of unmanned systems. The Caucus will continue to meet with the FAA for updates as the integration plan continues its course.