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New Legislation Would Clear Commercial Drones for Takeoff

 In response to the announcement that Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act to create a temporary rule to allow commercial drone operations in the United States, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has issued the following statement from Vice President Daniel Castro:

Every day the FAA spends drafting rules for commercial drones, gives other countries with more innovation-friendly regulatory policies an opportunity to pull further ahead in the race to lead in the development of this emerging technology. Since the FAA’s final rulemaking is still several years away, we need a temporary solution to let U.S. drone operators cut through red tape. Today’s proposed legislation brings us closer to that goal.

The Commercial UAS Modernization Act takes a number of concrete steps to cut through existing barriers and allow commercial drone operations in U.S. airspace while continuing to protect the public. These include testing, certification, and insurance requirements.

While the rules this legislation proposes are stricter than what we would hope the FAA adopts in its final rulemaking, establishing rules now rather than later will allow the U.S. drone industry to continue to develop.

In addition, the Act creates a research and development program that allows for data collection and analysis on a variety of different unmanned operations that would not be allowed by the FAA’s proposed rules, such as detect-and-avoid, command-and-control, autonomous systems, and beyond line-of-sight operations. This program will further expedite integration of commercial drones into U.S. airspace by allowing the FAA to identify safety standards and develop key milestones.

Congress should move quickly to debate the Commercial UAS Modernization Act to ensure that U.S. authorities can write informed rules and the U.S. commercial UAS industry remains competitive.