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FAA Works to Expedite Limited Use of Commercial UAS

Addressing a packed room yesterday at the 2014 AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference in Orlando, Florida, Jim Williams, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Manager of UAS Integration, said the FAA is working closely with several industries, including precision agriculture, to expedite limited commercial use of UAS before the rules are finalized. 

In 2012, Congress mandated in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act that the department develop a comprehensive plan to safely integrate commercial and civil unmanned aircraft into national airspace. It also noted that it must be done in a realistic time frame but no later than September 30, 2015. However, there is already speculation that the FAA will not meet this deadline.

AUVSI president and CEO Michael Toscano applauded the FAA announcement noting that, "UAS have a host of societal and economic benefits, and many industries are clamoring to harness their capabilities. Limited commercial operations is a good first step, but we also need to begin the small UAS rulemaking immediately. We look forward to continuing work with the FAA to advance UAS integration safely and responsibly."

Recently AUVSI, along with more than 30 organizations, called on the FAA to allow for limited operations immediately under its authority granted by Congress. Other stakeholders include filmmaking, powerline inspection, and flare stack inspection.

"These industries represent examples of the commercial potential that we highlighted in our economic report last year. The report found that in the first decade following integration, the UAS industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact. However, each day that integration is delayed will lead to $27 million in lost economic impact," says Toscano. "The FAA should begin utilizing its authority under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to allow for limited commercial operations now."

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