Thune, Markey Again Urge FAA to Develop Drone Operating Standards

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U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Ed Markey (D-MA) Thursday urged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to publish a rulemaking for the remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) without further delay. They also seek clarification on FAA’s plans for any voluntary industry implementation of drone identification. 

“The FAA has demonstrated past success with voluntary industry collaboration, exemplified by the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability and the Drone Integration Pilot Program, which have both provided crucial data and interim solutions to better inform the FAA’s long-term plans for UAS traffic management,” the senators wrote in a letter to FAA Administrator Steven Dickson. “We urge the FAA to apply lessons learned from oversight of these programs to any framework for voluntary industry implementation of remote identification.” 

The FAA was directed to develop standards for remote identification of UAS in the FAA Extension Act of 2016. The deadline for these standards was July 2018. The Department of Transportation most recently delayed a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for remote identification from September 1 to December 20 of this year, according to Thune and Markey. “We previously sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in April regarding the significant delay of this NPRM, and again wish to express the importance of the swift publication of this rule to full integration of UAS into the national airspace system,” they state in the letter.  

Additionally, the senators write: “We seek clarification regarding the June 6, 2019, Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting, during which the FAA requested the DAC to develop recommendations for voluntary implementation of certain aspects of UAS remote identification before publication of the final rule. While voluntary deployment of remote identification equipment could be helpful to the FAA in promulgating a final rule, interim guidance from the agency will be critical to ensuring that any pre-rule voluntary action taken by industry is conducted in a safe and consistent manner nationwide.”  

Questions they seek answers to include: 

  1. How does the FAA plan to administer and facilitate any voluntary deployment of remote identification equipment to ensure these deployments are carried out in a nationally consistent manner?
  2. Will the FAA publish any interim rule or other informal guidelines regarding voluntary deployment of remote identification?
  3. Does the FAA believe that the remote identification NPRM and final rule will be further delayed as a result of any voluntary actions?
  4. How will the FAA ensure that any voluntary actions taken by industry in the pre-rule period do not substantially differ from requirements laid out by the NPRM or final rule?
  5. How does the FAA plan to use information gathered from voluntary implementation to inform the rulemaking process?  

Thune and Markey asked for a response by September 27. 

September 13, 2019

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