Q&A: AUVSI Pres talks FAA, missed sUAS rule

By Luke Geiver | October 08, 2015

After the deadline to issue the rules for small unmanned aircraft systems expired at the end of September, we caught up with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International President Brian Wynne. Shortly after the deadline came and went, AUVSI issued a letter to FAA signed by 28 other UAS-related entities.

Explain why issuing this letter to the FAA is important for the UAS industry to know about?

It is important for the UAS industry to understand that it is being held back by the failure of the FAA to meet the congressionally mandated deadline for integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS). The FAA has had more than three years to meet the Sept. 30, 2015 deadline for full integration, yet the agency hasn’t even completed the small UAS rules. This letter raises awareness of the impact that delay is having on the progress of the UAS industry and highlights the need for the FAA to proceed with integration without any further delays.

The letter also highlights the businesses across a broad range of industries that, in the absence of regulations, are left sitting on the sidelines or operating under a restrictive exemption process. It’s not just the many uses of this technology that are at stake, but also the 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact that the UAS industry is expected to create in its first decade following integration. With the right regulatory environment, there’s no question these numbers could go higher.  But the longer it takes to establish federal rules, the more our nation risks losing its innovation edge along with billions in economic impact.

What is the significance of having the other 28 entities signed on to the letter?

The co-signees represent a broad array of UAS stakeholders, including manned and unmanned aviation organizations, associations and companies representing industries from energy and construction to insurance and engineering. All 28 signatories of the letter want the FAA to proceed with the UAS integration as expeditiously as possible so that UAS technology and the capabilities and benefits it will provide can truly take off. Until the right regulatory framework is in place, many businesses remain grounded or operating under a restrictive exemption process.

In regards to the small UAV rule, what are the main hurdles remaining for the FAA to clear before the rule can be issued?

You will need to ask the FAA what is holding up the process for the agency to finalize the rules. The FAA released its draft small UAS rules in February 2015 – eight months ago. The FAA solicited feedback during a notice and comment period that closed in April of this year. All that remains is for the FAA to review the comments and issue a final rule. The agency has had six months so far to go through the comments, and yet we still don’t have a regulatory framework in place. We want to see the integration of UAS into the NAS proceed without any further delays.


Following the issuance of the rule, what type of reaction or activity does AUVSI expect from the greater UAS industry?

Once a regulatory framework is in place and integration into the national airspace is achieved, the growth of businesses within the UAS industry, and in other industries using the technology, will be enormous. Whether it is assisting first responders with search and rescue missions, advancing scientific research or helping farmers more efficiently survey their crops, the applications of UAS are virtually limitless and enable public agencies and businesses to perform tasks more safely, efficiently and cost effectively. UAS technology also has the potential to create a significant number of jobs and stimulate the U.S. economy. According to an AUVSI economic study, UAS will contribute an estimated 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact during the first decade following integration.