DOT Announces Drone Integration Pilot Program

DOT Announces Drone Integration Pilot Program

The program is an opportunity to connect state, local, and tribal governments with private-sector entities with a goal of safely integrating drones into the national airspace.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has announced more details on the UAS Integration Pilot Program set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration. The program is an opportunity to connect state, local, and tribal governments with private-sector entities with a goal of safely integrating drones into the national airspace. In less than a decade, the potential economic benefit of integrated unmanned aerial systems into the nation's airspace is estimated to equal as much as $82 billion and create up to 100,000 jobs.

Chao said DOT is invested in drone industry innovation, but not at the expense of community safety. "The drone pilot program will accelerate the safe integration of drones into our airspace by creating new partnerships between local governments, the FAA, and private drone operators," she said. "These partnerships will allow local communities to experiment with new technologies like package delivery, emergency drone inspections, and more on terms that work for them and in ways that support a unified and safe airspace."

The program is designed to provide greater regulatory certainty and stability to those entities that are accepted. Applicants can include local governments, private sector companies or organizations, UAS operators, and other stakeholders. Application details can be found on the program's website.

Initial program applicants who receive approval could begin deploying drones under the limitations coordinated and agreed to with FAA within 180 days. The program will last for three years.

"The integration of drones into our national airspace will be the biggest technical challenge to aviation since the beginning of the Jet Age," Chao said. "This program will help prepare the way for this new technology and usher in a new era of aviation service, accessibility, and capability."

About the Author

Jessica Davis is an Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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