Oregon representative introduces UAS to speed up regs

By Ann Bailey | February 04, 2016

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, has introduced legislation to streamline the UAS regulation process.

Blumenauer, who represents Oregon’s Third District, introduced The Commercial UAS Modernization act in the House of Representatives Feb 2. The legislation is aimed at creating a framework that will promote innovation in the UAS industry and safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace, Blumenauer said in a news release. Similar legislation of the same name was introduced by Sen. Cory Baker, D-NJ, in 2015.

The UAS industry is booming in Oregon and across the U.S., but laws and regulations are stifling it, encouraging U.S. companies to look overseas to test new technology, Blumenauer said. The legislation he introduced updates federal rules and makes it clear that flying smartphones should not be regulated like Predator drones, he said.

Blumenauer acknowledged that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of creating a regulatory framework for commercial UAS operation, but said the agency’s approach to UAS integration and regulation has been piecemeal.

According to Blumenauer, The Commercial and Modernization Act would:

-          Create an interim rule that provides basic guidelines for commercial use and testing of small UAS and micro UAS while the FAA finalizes rules covering commercial UAS.

-          Strengthen the FAA’s oversight authorities by creating a deputy administrator solely responsible for the safe integration of UAS into national air space, at the same time streamlining regulations that are slowing the industry’s ability to develop new unmanned aircraft technologies.

-          Directs the FAA to explore the transporting of packages and other properties by small UAS.

-          Ensures that FAA test sites are being used to the greatest extent to assist research into new technologies, including developing an air traffic management system in partnership with industry and governmental agencies such as NASA.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International President and CEO Bryan Wynne said he appreciates Blumenauer’s introduction of the legislation, which offers needed policy to increase the adaption and deployment of UAS in the House of Representatives.

“This bill brings to the forefront key areas for collaboration between the federal government and industry to unlock the full economic and societal benefits of UAS technology,” Wynn said in the news release.  “We look forward to continuing this timely discussion as Congress prepares to consider FAA reauthorization.”

Several others also commented within the statement issued by Blumeanauer, including: Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; Dennis Wharton, executive vice presient of communications of the National Assoication of Broadcasters; and Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition.