FAA Expands Forum to Resolve Drone Integration Issues

The FAA, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and NASA have agreed to expand the UAS Executive Committee (ExCom) in a new effort to resolve drone integration policy issues.  The UAS ExCom was originally formed in 2009, in order to focus on the Department of Defense’s integration of drones into the national airspace.  More recently, the ExCom is designed to improve the communication of federal agencies on drone integration.  In a published statement, the FAA said that the UAS ExCom “provides federal agencies with a forum to share information and reduce redundancies on UAS research and development, and resolve policy and procedural issues on safe UAS integration into the nation’s airspace.”

The UAS ExCom is currently chaired by Marke “Hoot” Gibson, retired U.S. Air Force major general and the FAA’s appointed senior advisor on UAS integration.  The Committee currently includes representatives from the DHS, NASA and the FAA: the committee will expand to include the Departments of Interior, Justice and Commerce.  The new committee is expected to meet quarterly.

“Although NASA operates unmanned aircraft as part of its flight test mission, NASA’s primary role in the UAS EXCOM is focused on our research and development efforts. We look forward to the exchange of ideas with our UAS EXCOM partners” stated Robert Pierce, Deputy Associate Administrator for Strategy, Office of the Associate Administrator NASA Aeronautics Research.

The announcement is the latest in the FAA’s publicized efforts to expand their partnership approach to drone regulation. “…the key to innovation is partnerships with the industry, academia and federal agencies,” Gibson said at the recent SXSW technology conference.  The FAA has already formed a committee of drone experts and stakeholders to make recommendations on micro drone regulation, saying that it was basing the decision on the successful task force model used to quickly define and enact the drone registration program at the end of last year.