Massive Adoption of Drones; Safety Still Top Concern for Officials

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At the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) co-hosted Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS or drones) Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland last week, all speakers agreed on one thing: safety is the primary concern. Michael Kratsios, Deputy Assistant to the president and Deputy U.S. Technology Officer, said that while “we’ve never seen such a massive adoption of new vehicles taking to the sky at such a rapid pace,” safety is still an issue and is critical to the integration of drones into the national airspace. FAA Acting Administrator, Dan Elwell, spoke to the issue of safety, stating that “[i]f you want to fly in the [national airspace], you have to be identifiable, and you have to follow the rules.” Elwell simplified it –unfortunately “one malicious act could put a hard stop on all the hard work [the FAA and the industry has] done on drone integration.” Deputy Associate Administrator for the FAA, Angela Stubblefield, agreed. She said, “With manned aircraft, you can see a tail number, but right now identifying a drone operator is more difficult. A drone flying over power infrastructure might cause concern, but if the FAA could tell that [the drone] was owned by a utility or a railroad, it would ease concerns.” For many FAA officials, drone identification is the key to drone safety in the skies. As regulations and guidance develop in this area, we will continue to monitor any new drone identification requirements and what that means for both commercial operators and hobbyists alike.

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