Today U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the three-year Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) successfully concluded on Oct. 25. Eight of the nine-state, local and tribal governments that participated in the program have signed new agreements with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to continue to tackle remaining UAS integration challenges.
“The three years of information gathered under the drone Integration Pilot Program will be applied to a new initiative called BEYOND, which will further advance the safe integration of drones into our national air space,” said Elaine L. Chao.
A Presidential Memorandum launched the IPP in October 2017, setting off a competitive selection process from 149 applicants. Using innovative strategies, the IPP participants and their industry partners crafted successful safety cases to operate under the FAA’s existing regulations. Participants used the regulations to conduct package delivery, inspect pipelines and power lines, assess flood damage, count cattle, respond to 911 calls, inspect aircraft, and many other missions. The data from these flights have informed ongoing rulemaking, policy, and guidance, and will continue to support future efforts.
“At the onset of the public health emergency, many of the IPP participants were able to pivot from their original missions to support the COVID-19 response and recovery, demonstrating the increasing value of drone operations in this new environment,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.
Challenges of BEYOND program:
- Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations that are repeatable, scalable, and economically viable with specific emphasis on infrastructure inspection, public operations, and small package delivery.
- Leveraging industry operations to better analyze and quantify the societal and economic benefits of UAS operations.
- Focusing on community engagement efforts to collect, analyze and address community concerns.
Eight of the nine participants selected for IPP will participate in BEYOND, including:
- Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma;
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority of Virginia;
- Kansas Department of Transportation;
- Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority;
- North Carolina Department of Transportation;
- North Dakota Department of Transportation;
- City of Reno, Nevada;
- The University of Alaska-Fairbanks.