Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Congress Recognizes Onboard DAA Technology as Essential Tool for Safe Commercial Drone Integration into National Airspace

Iris Automation, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and the Helicopter Association International (HAI) applaud the U.S. Congress for its continued support for the safe integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace.

With the passage of the end of year government FY’21 funding legislation, H.R. 133, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the House and Senate bi-partisan Appropriations Committees included language intended to underscore the importance of onboard Detect and Avoid technology (DAA) as a critical safety tool for full UAS integration. By doing so, under its legislative oversight authority, Congress has sent a clear signal that progress towards full Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone integration remains a top priority for U.S. policymakers.

The key to drone integration is air safety for all aircraft, piloted and unpiloted. Safe integration and uniform regulatory standards will eventually allow commercial drones to conduct missions ranging from package delivery and infrastructure inspection to agriculture, mapping and mining, and critical life-saving public safety operations. The use cases for beneficial commercial and public sector drone use is almost limitless.

Iris Automation is a computer vision technology company pioneering the development of advanced detection systems used to help provide Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) capabilities that enable safe commercial drone operations including scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight missions.

Quote from Jon Damush, CEO of Iris Automation

“We are delighted to see Congress recognize the stage we are at with DAA technology and its impact on the future commercialization of drone operations. The FAA has already made great strides in defining the necessary regulations through strong industry partnerships and we look forward to continuing to be a part of that collaboration.”

Iris Automation already participates in the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND program to advance more complex UAS operations BVLOS in the National Airspace System.

The language included in this legislation will soon become law once signed by President Donald Trump. The provision directs the FAA to report back to Congress within 90 days on the agency’s plans for advancing BVLOS regulatory standards and specifically on how onboard Detect and Avoid technologies can address safety concerns: 

“The FAA shall report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations within 90 days of enactment of this Act on how it plans to address a number of complex safety concerns prior to allowing for BVLOS operations, including safe distance separation, right-of-way, reliability standards for sensors, and the associated data sources and data fidelity for flight planning, terrain avoidance, object avoidance, collision avoidance, and how current onboard detect and avoid technology manufacturers and users are addressing these challenges.”

AOPA and HAI issued a joint statement: “AOPA and HAI appreciate the prioritization of aviation safety in this legislation and commend Congress for calling attention to important considerations for the FAA to address in order to advance safe BVLOS operations. Technologies such as onboard detect and avoid show great promise for enhancing UAS safety in the national airspace system without the need for additional equipment on manned aircraft. We look forward to the FAA’s review of how certain capabilities may be effectively utilized to meet a regulatory framework for UAS operations.”

Iris Automation is committed to developing critical detection technologies and to working closely with global policymakers and regulators to develop appropriate BVLOS standards. Ultimately for commercial drone use to become widespread, clear standards which will incorporate onboard DAA will be necessary to ensure a high degree of air safety. 

About Iris Automation

Iris Automation is a safety avionics technology company pioneering Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) systems and aviation policy services that enable customers to build scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations for commercial drones; operations unlocking the potential of countless industries. Iris’ DAA system runs entirely onboard Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), allowing them to fly safely at long distances and without human intervention. We work closely with civil aviation authorities globally as they implement regulatory frameworks ensuring BVLOS is conducted safely, partnering on multiple FAA BEYOND UAS Integration Programs and Transport Canada’s BVLOS Technology Demonstration Program. Iris is recognized by AUVSI as the number one Technology and Innovation Leader for 2020.  Visit www.irisonboard.com.

About AOPA

Since 1939, AOPA has protected the freedom to fly by creating an environment that gives people of all ages the opportunity to enjoy aviation and all it has to offer. AOPA is the world’s largest community of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts with representatives based in Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., and seven regions across the United States. The association provides member services including advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels, legal services, flight training, and safety programs, and award-winning media. AOPA specializes in making aviation more accessible to everyone. To learn more, visit www.aopa.org.

About HAI

HAI is the professional trade association for the international helicopter industry. HAI members represent more than 3,000 aviation businesses and individuals who safely operate more than 4,500 helicopters approximately 2.3 million hours each year in more than 73 nations. HAI is dedicated to the promotion of the helicopter as a safe, effective method of commerce and to the advancement of the international helicopter community. Learn more at www.rotor.org.