Florida Sen urges NASA, FAA, DOD, DHS to collaborate on drones

By Luke Geiver | January 21, 2016

Drones should be the bridge that connects four major U.S. government agencies, according to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL. This week, Nelson issued a letter to NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, asking each entity to work together “to mitigate safety and security risks associated with this new technology.”

Nelson is the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees both NASA and the FAA. The committee is slated to begin work to reauthorize the FAA. According to Nelson, the use of drones will be a key component of the reauthorization legislation.

Part of Nelson’s reasoning for the letter stems from a report documenting possible close calls between aircraft and small unmanned aircraft vehicles.

Included in his letter, Nelson offered a series of questions that, to date, the FAA and industry has been working to answer.

The questions include:

What strategies or technologies are you pursuing to prevent UAS from entering airspace above or immediately adjacent to critical infrastructure and sensitive locations?

Are you considering additional airspace restrictions to address the flight characteristics and capabilities of UAS that differ from manned aircraft?

What is the status of federal collaboration to meet these challenges in a manner that promotes safety without stifling growth in the UAS or traditional aviation industries?