Representative Blumenauer Introduces Legislation to Support Innovation for Commercial Drone Industry

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 2, 2016 – Today, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act, legislation to create an interim framework that will promote American innovation in the rapidly growing field of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones, and the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace System. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced similar legislation of the same name last year.

“The UAS industry is booming in Oregon and nationwide, but our laws and regulations are stifling innovation instead of encouraging it, forcing American companies to look overseas to test new technology,” said Representative Blumenauer. “We must not miss the opportunity to harness the benefits and utility of UAS technology, which will bring advances in safety and efficiency in nearly every sector of the economy. The Commercial UAS Modernization Act provides a much-needed update to federal rules, making it clear that flying smartphones should not be regulated like Predator drones.”

“America can lead the world in developing this cutting edge technology, but only if we take the necessary steps to adopt a regulatory framework that embraces both safety and innovation,” Senator Booker said. “I’m proud that Congressman Blumenauer is introducing the Commercial UAS Modernization Act which takes critical steps towards this goal. I am excited to have a partner so dedicated to ensuring the United States can reap the social and economic benefits of UAS technology – from delivering food aid abroad to helping with search and rescue at home, the possibilities of this technology are just beginning to be explored and I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we move these proposals forward.”

The United States needs a comprehensive and well-defined regulatory framework for UAS integration. While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in the process of creating a regulatory framework for commercial UAS operation, the FAA’s existing approach to UAS integration and regulation has been piecemeal at best. As a result, we are behind other countries in developing a regulatory regime that encourages growth of this burgeoning industry, and U.S. companies are being overtaken by competition in Canada, Europe, and Asia. This legislation is a uniform and comprehensive approach that offers our drone industry a sensible path forward.

The Commercial UAS Modernization Act:

·      Creates an interim rule that provides basic guidelines for commercial use and testing of small UAS and micro UAS during the period the FAA finalizes rules covering commercial UAS;

·      Strengthens the FAA’s oversight authorities by creating a deputy administrator exclusively responsible for the safe integration of UAS in U.S. airspace, while also streamlining regulations that currently slow industry’s ability to innovate new aircraft technologies;

·      Directs the FAA to explore the feasibility of transporting packages and other property by small UAS; and

·      Ensures that FAA test sites are being used to the maximum extent to facilitate research into new technologies, including developing an air traffic management system for UAS, in partnership with industry and other relevant government agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The UAS industry expects to produce more than 100,000 U.S. jobs, with $82 billion in economic impact, within a decade after these regulations are complete. The potential social and economic benefits of this technology go far beyond package delivery and capturing photos and video footage. Around the world, UAS are being used to inspect critical infrastructure and conduct land surveys, fight forest fires and support emergency and disaster response, transport medical samples and supplies, analyze and manage crops, detect oil spills and predict volcanic eruptions, catch poachers, and deliver high-speed Internet to remote or underserved areas. Full integration of UAS into the national airspace could revolutionize the way entire sectors of our economy and governments function.

“AUVSI appreciates Rep. Blumenauer introducing the Commercial UAS Modernization Act in the House, which offers needed policy to increase the adoption and deployment of unmanned aircraft systems by industries across our nation’s business sector,” said Brian Wynne, President & CEO, AUVSI. “This bill brings to the forefront key areas for collaboration between the federal government and industry to unlock the full economic and societal benefits of UAS technology. We look forward to continuing this timely discussion as Congress prepares to consider FAA reauthorization.”

“Other countries with more innovation-friendly regulatory policies continue to pull ahead of the United States in the race to develop commercial drones,” said Daniel Castro, Vice President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “However, in terms of policy, this legislation would catapult the United States to the front of the line in UAS innovation. In addition, it would carve out pragmatic exemptions for micro-UAS and establish a set of R&D priorities for drones.”

“NAB thanks Representative Blumenauer for introducing the Commercial UAS Modernization Act in the House, which contributes to a sensible framework for the commercial operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Broadcasters believe UAS can help improve newsgathering, especially during times of emergency, and support regulations that enable their responsible use. We look forward to working with Congress and the FAA on enacting fair UAS guidelines,” said Dennis Wharton, EVP Communications, National Association of Broadcasters.

“The Small UAV Coalition applauds Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) for introducing the Commercial UAS Modernization Act, which would pave the way for safe, efficient, and timely integration of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System for commercial purposes,” said the Small UAV Coalition, whose members include Amazon Prime Air, DJI, Google[x], GoPro, Intel, Parrot, Verizon Ventures, and 3DR, among others. “The Commercial UAS Modernization Act…would allow American businesses of all sizes to take advantage of this technology now, bringing the United States further in line with countries like Japan and France, who have long embraced the benefits of commercial UAS operations.”