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Hoeven Introduces Legislation to set Interim UAS Rules
Post Date: May 13 2015

Grand Forks Herald
Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D., introduced legislation Tuesday to set temporary guidelines for operating small commercial unmanned aircraft systems while the Federal Aviation Administration develops more permanent rules for the new technology.ADVERTISEMENTHoeven introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in an effort to speed up the development process for an industry some see becoming a major part of the North Dakota and national economy. The FAA largely bans commercial use of UAS, but companies can receive an exemption.

"The sooner we allow the broader use of this technology, the more quickly the U.S. will realize the many societal and economic benefits of UAS," said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, in a statement.

The bill would allow UAS operators to certify aircraft and pilots with six federally designated test sites, one of them being in North Dakota, Hoeven said. Operators would have to fly under proposed FAA rules for small commercial UAS, which limit flights to daylight hours, to within an operator's line of sight, and under an altitude of 500 feet.

Hoeven said it could be a couple of years before the FAA rules are finalized.

The bill is "an effort to expedite the process because we're falling behind other countries," Hoeven said in an interview with the Herald. "This uses the test sites to speed up the process so that our companies can move forward with developing unmanned aircraft."

Tests

The six FAA test sites were set up to research integrating unmanned aircraft safely into the national airspace. North Dakota was named one of the sites in late 2013.

AUVSI estimates that the UAS industry will create more than 100,000 new jobs within 10 years of airspace integration. Small UAS are expected to be used in a variety of industries, including agriculture and energy.

The FAA announced its proposed rules for small UAS in February, but some worry that the government is moving too slowly to regulate the industry.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., joined Hoeven in writing a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta last year in part to express concern about delays operators face in getting permission to fly.

"These delays force those manufacturers and operators who play by the rules to sit on the sidelines while they wait for approval while others chance fines and operate without any certification from the FAA, which raises serious concerns about public safety," Heitkamp, Hoeven, Booker and two other senators wrote in November.

Hoeven's and Booker's bill also creates a deputy FAA administrator responsible for the integration of UAS into the national airspace and "builds a reasonable framework for the registration and use of UAS," according to Hoeven's press release. It also requires operators to report crashes to the FAA.

The FAA doesn't comment on pending legislation, a spokeswoman said Tuesday evening.

"The Commercial UAS Modernization Act sets up clear and immediate rules of the road, helping to lay a foundation that will allow us to make cutting-edge progress in a rapidly emerging field," Booker said in a statement.

Hoeven Introduces Legislation to set Interim UAS Rules - Grand Forks Herald
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