The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Commercial Drone Alliance, the Consumer Technology Association, and the Small UAV Coalition are urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to publish a proposed rule to establish a process to designate airspace above and around fixed-site critical infrastructure facilities.
Critical infrastructure facilities are those that are so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, economic security, or public health and safety. Facilities include those in defense, emergency services, communications, manufacturing, energy, food and agriculture, healthcare, and transportation systems sectors.
In a letter sent at the end of June 2021 to FAA Administrator Dixon, the organizations highlighted Congressional mandates to promulgate such rulemaking, including requirements passed in the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 and the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
The letter demonstrates broad agreement among drone industry stakeholders that a robust strategy to protect critical infrastructure facilities requires centralized decision-making and airspace authority from the federal government. FAA should not delay in publishing the proposed rule and proving opportunity for the industry to provide feedback.
As the signatories wrote,
“We support this rulemaking to protect critical infrastructure facilities from the risk that malicious, reckless, or unknowing UAS operations may pose, and also to ensure that it is the federal government — not state or local governments — that controls the national airspace. The delay in establishing a process to designate airspace has left a vacuum that invites state and local governments to enact restrictions on UAS operations above and near a variety of structures.”
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