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Earlier this week, the FAA along with AUVSI, hosted the 2nd annual Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Symposium in Reston, VA. One of the major themes for the 3 day conference was the FAA’s dedication to working with the industry to guide where future rules and regulations will need to come into play. As technology advances, integration of UAS into the National Airspace System, (NAS) paramount to maintaining the  safety of the public, and the aviation community.


By the end of the year, the FAA plans to have a prototype available of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, LAANC. The LAANC will provide airspace maps further breaking down the controlled airspace into flyable zones for UAS based on proximity to the airport. With the help of a third party, LAANC will allow for automated airspace authorization approvals when a UAS pilot wishes to operate in the allowable zones.  Up to 60-75% of authorizations may be able to be automatically approved.


Another major takeaway from the week, was the idea of performance based standards. Instead of setting criteria for specific equipment that a UAS is required to have while operating in the NAS, certain performance based standards will need to be met.  For example, a remote ID of an aircraft may need to be able to communicate to air traffic control the altitude, location, trajectory and so forth of the UAS, but there will not be a specific tool specified to complete the requirement. This will allow for a more scalable approach to regulations as technology rapidly changes.


With breakout sessions and workshops on topics such as cyber security, beyond visual line of sight, flying over people, the future of UAS integration and many more, the underlying theme across the board was always safety and risk mitigation. The FAA is taking an open minded approach to requests from the industry to expand the limitations of UAS capabilities. With use of the Pathfinder research program and FAA test sites, data is being gathered, analyzed and compiled to increase the safe uses of UAS. Waivers to operate outside of the constraints of Part 107 are meticulously being granted to those that can prove the safety, training, and predictability of their UAS operations.

There is a lot to look forward to in the unmanned airspace over the next 10 years, and the FAA is staying ahead of the game by teaming up with industry leaders as UAVs integrate into the NAS.

Lindsey Mitchell

March 31, 2017