The US Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (IPP) established by a presidential memorandum in October 2017 is due to expire in October 2020, prompting the Small UAV Coalition to write to the transportation secretary Elaine Chao and Federal Aviation Administrator Steve Dickson with recommendations regarding the next steps.
According to Small UAV Coalition, the IPP has successfully demonstrated that integration of UAS technologies into the airspace and is possible and provides high value service. However, it calls for a regulatory environment to allow these systems to safely scale.
With these objectives in mind, the Coalition letter recommends a number of actions:
- Prepare a report to summarise the UAS operations conducted under the IPP and address how to meet stated objectives;
- Flight Standards representatives assigned to each IPP should continue to advise and assist IPP participants in making the safety case for expanded operations under waivers and other approvals;
- The IPP has not yet yielded routine BVLOS operations. The FAA is urged to provide additional guidance for building an acceptable safety case;
- Extend operations under Part 107 past the September 2023 sunset of section 44807;
- Announce that waivers granted under Part 107 will continue after the sunset date, and those sought post-sunset will continue to be granted; and
- Consult with industry stakeholders, including companies that have begun type certification process, in a considered transition to a certification framework.
The Small UAV Coalition concludes there is much to be gained by continuing the good work that was done as part of the IPP and broadening its applicability to all UAS operations, while pursuing integration of true viable BVLOS operations. Experience and knowledge gained in the IPP can be used to advance a risk- and standards-based regulatory framework to authorise productive and more complex operations in the navigable airspace.
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