President Obama signs FAA bill into law; work on unmanned integration into airspace, GPS-based air traffic management to begin
ARLINGTON, Va., 14 Feb. 2012. President Obama has signed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act 2012—with funding and provisions for granting military, commercial, and privately-owned greater access to U.S. airspace and air traffic management systems modernization—into law.
“Technology is advancing to the point where we now know these systems can reliably fly. The next step is to work on the regulations that govern the rules of the sky to ensure that unmanned aircraft do no harm to other manned aircraft or to people or property on the ground,” explains Michael Toscano, AUVSI president and CEO.
According to AUVSI, major UAS provisions in the FAA bill include:
- Setting a 30 Sept., 2015 deadline for full integration of UAS into the national airspace
- Requiring a comprehensive integration plan within nine months
- Requiring the FAA to create a five-year UAS roadmap (which should be updated annually)
- Requiring small UAS (under 55 pounds) to be allowed to fly within 27 months
- Requiring six UAS test sites within six months (similar to the language in the already-passed defense bill)
- Requiring small UAS (under 55 pounds) be allowed to fly in the U.S. Arctic, 24 hours a day, beyond line-of-sight, at an altitude of at least 2,000 feet, within one year
- Requiring expedited access for public users, such as law enforcement, firefighters, emergency responders
- Allowing first responders to fly very small UAS (4.4 pounds or less) within 90 days if they meet certain requirements
- Requiring the FAA to study UAS human factors and causes of accidents