Drone groups reach out to Trump

By Luke Geiver | December 08, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration can play a vital role in furthering the commercial deployment of unmanned aircraft systems, according to two industry-related organizations. The Commercial Drone Alliance, a group formed this year to represent commercially-focused drone operations firms, and the Drone Manufacturers Alliance, a group including the major sUAS makers distributing throughout the U.S., have each penned a letter to Trump. 

“America is witnessing a renaissance in computing and robotics that promises to revolutionize the way we work, connect and even see the world,” said Michael Latiner, chairman of the board for CDA and the chief strategy officer for Uplift Data Partners. “Of all these exciting advancements, perhaps none holds as much potential for doing good and advancing the country’s wealth and economic prosperity as UAS.” 

If the U.S. can overcome regulatory barriers, the potential for UAS is unlimited, CDA said in its letter to Trump. “Sadly, however, the U.S. is playing catch-up to much of the rest of the world on commercial drones,” CDA added. “This is where the incoming Trump Administration, with your focus on jobs, the economy and a free market, can take significant steps to enhance American competitiveness.” 

To enhance the use of commercial drones in the U.S., the CDA offered a list—not disclosed in its letter to Trump—of potential individuals that would be well-suited for his transition team. The individuals could be placed in leadership positions at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

Kara Calvert, director of the Drone Manufacturers Alliance, commended Trump for his pick of Elaine Chao to sevrve as the next secretary of the DOT. The DMA’s letter also outlined the top policy priorities the organization has, which include: 

-Educating consumers and commercial users about aviation rules and regulations that provide for safe operations. 

-Creating a regulatory framework for micro UAS.

 -Preserving the role of the FAA and Congress in regulating the national airspace.

-Protecting innovation by recreations operators. 

-Working together to protect privacy. 

-Fostering technological solutions, rather than creating static technology mandates.

If new or updated regulations do occur, the DMA believes they should be federal in nature to avoid a “patchwork of cumbersome state and local technology mandates.” 

“As manufacturers, we work hard to educate our users about the regulatory environment. A patchwork of state and local laws will make it impossible to provide the most up-to-date information to our users about current rules, especially when certain laws may conflict with others in the same geographic region,” the group said.

A micro category would help relieve the FAA from the burden of licensing and other managerial and logistical considerations for low risk commercial operations, the DMA also said. 

In regards to privacy, the DMA said that drones should not be subject to additional requirements when used in similar ways to existing technology. 

And on the possibility of creating industry-wide standards applicable to all operations and operators, the DMA believes they should be technology-based. “The world of drones is constantly evolving and expanding,” the group said, adding, “We support efforts to create industry-led standards related to drones, but they must reflect the rapidly changing technological capabilities and advancement.”