Why the New Transportation Secretary Will Be Good for the Drone Industry

Elaine Chao testifies during her confirmation hearing to be the next U.S. secretary of transportation before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee as her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looks on. CREDIT: Getty Images

On Wednesday this week, President-elect Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao spoke to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee about her plans to tackle America’s infrastructure problem.

Chao, the former Secretary of Labor under President George H.W. Bush, stated during her hearing that the federal government has not kept pace with emerging technologies, including such advances as autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.

Throughout her speech, Chao affirmed the importance of safety regulations, especially as these types of technologies continue to develop and become more commonplace. “Regulatory decisions should be rooted in analysis derived from sound science and data,” she said.

Although the drone industry saw a major breakthrough in terms of regulations with Part 107, this is more good news, which could spell an even friendlier environment for the development of drone businesses and commercial UAV operators.

Chao worked extensively with the Federal Aviation Administration during her tenure as undersecretary of transportation, which positions her to make well-informed and knowledgable decisions about modernizing the national air traffic control system. We can reasonably expect to see new FAA rules loosen restrictions on commercial drones.

To take it all one step further, the FAA’s funding is set to expire on September 30. Privatization of air traffic control is going to be a topic on the table of the newly convened 115th Congress. If that transpires, the decisions about regulations for commercial drone operations will be made by those in the industry with hands-on knowledge of what drones are capable of, and the best ways to keep our skies safe.

Elizabeth Ciobanu

I cover breaking news in the drone industry, interview experts in the field to learn from them for myself, and to help spread the love of drones.

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