AUVSI joins groups calling for end to government shutdown

By Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International | January 14, 2019

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) last week joined other aviation groups on Capitol Hill to urge an end to the ongoing government shutdown.

At a rally, organized by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), participants detailed the impact of a severely curtailed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on manned aviation and the operations of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

“The UAS industry’s number one priority is maintaining the safety and security of our airspace,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “Under the current partial government shutdown, that safety and security is jeopardized.”

Wynne detailed the impact that the ongoing shutdown has on the operations of small businesses across the country who use UAS in their work. The closure of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office has halted the application process for those applying for Remote Pilot Certificates or for a waiver to go beyond what is currently possible in the FAA Small UAS Rule (Part 107). Additionally, for operators with certification set to expire it cannot be renewed during the shutdown.

“If the shutdown continues and operators see their certification expire, they may lose their insurance as certification is a requirement,” said Wynne. “They will have to halt their operations – jeopardizing their sources of income and damage to their nascent business –– until the shutdown ends.”

Small businesses are disproportionately impacted by these hurdles. Recent AUVSI analysis found that more than 90 percent of Part 107 waivers granted went to businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Waiver holders also reside in all 50 states, making this a nationwide problem impacting people working in industries as varied as filmmaking, construction and real estate. In addition, first responders received 11 percent of waivers granted to help keep their communities safe.

“Public safety agencies across the country increasingly use UAS to gain situational awareness during natural disasters, to find missing persons, and to save time and money on routine tasks like car accident investigations,” said Wynne. “The shutdown may keep them grounded when we need them most.”  

Other participants in the press conference included U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), U.S. Congressmen Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Peter King (R-NY), Airlines for America (A4A), the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.